Older adults who take multiple prescription medications and supplements often have difficulty remembering to take their pills at the right time of day, in the correct dosage while also being careful not to mix certain foods or other medications. Dangerous drug overdoses or interactions can land seniors in the emergency room and poor adherence to medication dosage and schedules can have a direct impact on the quality of life of older adults.
Seniors or caregivers should keep an up-to-date list of all medications taken and regularly review prescriptions, supplements, side effects and changes in health with their doctor. A Medication Checklist is available in the Toolkit with a free membership to The Oldish. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, non-adherence to prescription medication regimes results in nearly $1 billion each year in hospital costs. And with two out of every five seniors taking five or more prescription medications, as the elderly population swells, so too will the serious problem of polypharmacy.
While a number of medication organizers, automated pill dispensers and call reminders are available to help older adults taking multiple medication stay on track, smartphones can also be put to work lowering the risk for drug interactions, serious side effects or overdoses. Older adults are becoming increasingly comfortable and familiar with computer and mobile phone technology. Using this hand-held tech can help older adults maintain their independence and freedom while satisfying family and friends concerned about their safety. Text message alerts have been studied and show an improvement in medication compliance with regular reminders so it stands to reason that medication apps could increase adherence while also allowing for tracking of side effects and adherence to dosage.
A few of the top rated medication reminder apps include Pillboxie for iPhone which uses visual cues to remind the user to take their pills and collects a history of how the patient feels after taking each medication, creating a history for health care professionals. Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminders, an android and iPhone app, helps users manage medications, keep track of blood pressure or glucose levels and information can be shared with doctors or families with an alert system. Other apps to check out include AlarmMeds for Android, My Heart My Life (created by the Heart Foundation) for IOS and android and MedicineList+ for iPhone and android.