Medication Management and Elder Care

In prior blog posts I have touched on this topic, but it continues to be one of the most challenging issues facing elders aging in place, at home, and home care agencies that provide the support they need – including our own agency, Support For Home.

In January, I wrote that,

The American Heart Association indicates that non-compliance with medication prescriptions is the number one problem in treating and managing illnesses.  Studies report that 89,000 deaths and $100,000,000,000 in unnecessary hospitalization costs occur per year from this problem.

Last October, I noted that research indicates, “One of the leading causes of hospital readmissions, especially for elders, is medication non-compliance.”

Two years ago, I quoted an article in The New York Times:

Nearly three in four Americans do not follow doctor’s orders for taking prescription drugs, a problem that is associated with 125,000 patient deaths each year, according to the National Consumers League. One in three patients never even fills the prescription. Others forget to pick up their drugs from the pharmacy, skip doses, take their pills at the wrong time or take too much or too little.

So, everybody seems to agree that this is an area of grave danger to our elders.  Some states, like Oregon (having grown up there, I am never surprised when they get it “right”), have recognized the problem and done something about it.

Assistance with medication is critical for some seniors

Oregon, for about 30 years, has allowed Home Care Aides to administer medication, with training, supervision and an agreement with the client / family in place.  This solves a huge problem, compared with California, where the law requires a nurse to handle medication administration.  We love nurses.  They are usually passionate, dedicated clinicians.  However, no client can afford to pay a nurse to come in every day for medication needs.

Until the states / feds figure out that Home Care Aides need to carry more responsibility in this space – with the proper safeguards – we will continue to see the horrid results for elders’ lack of compliance with medication that I talked about at the beginning of this post.  For elders with dementia, the situation is even more critical.

Best wishes.  Bert


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