Aging Parents: Taking Medications–or Perhaps Skipping Them?

How difficult is it to remember to take medications? Do the number of medications and a good memory determine that? Or is there more to consider? (Of course, read on.)

For young adults it’s easy.  Most have few prescription medications and probably some vitamins–no doubt often gulped down at the same time each day. But what about older people and aging parents?

People over 55, on average, take  6-8 medications daily, according to a July 5, 2011 NY Times article.  I wonder if that number includes vitamins.

Dealing with 3 medical conditions is average for a 75-year-old, according to the Alliance for Aging Research presented in a Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter article (August 2002). This necessitates about 5 prescription drugs simultaneously, although the article says the number could go as high as 15.

There are of course organizers–from the inexpensive plastic pill-organizing boxes to the more expensive technological products like Philips and Guardian that remind people to take their medications.

But this may be only part of the issue.  The July 5, 2011 NY Times article, “When ‘Take as Directed’ Poses a Challenge” addresses  another important aspect. It never occurred to me that “take every 12 hours” and “take twice a day” could cause confusion or be burdensome.  In our efforts to help parents, who take medications, age well, this article is more than worthwhile….and if you wonder if aging parents may be skipping medications, it’s a must-read.

2 thoughts on “Aging Parents: Taking Medications–or Perhaps Skipping Them?

  1. It is hard for aging parents to remember to take their medicine even with a pill dispenser. They often times get confused over simple things and medicine can be complex.

    • This is true, Annie. Do you know of any better options for making certain–within reason–that aging parents adhere to their pill-taking schedule? If you could share them (it?), it would be great. Thanks.

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