With the continued increase in pollution — the popular adage that proclaims, “Health is Wealth” was never truer than it is today. However, with the rising cost of healthcare, it would seem that great wealth is indeed needed in order to maintain health. As a result, many (especially the elderly) choose to augment their medication or totally skip them. This problem had become so prevalent that in 2005, Katherine Binns, the President of Harris Interactive (a healthcare research company), stated that almost half of all the prescriptions for drugs, which were supposed to be taken regularly, were either not completed or never filled. This is especially true for seniors who aside from possible cost issues may have difficulties such as depression and memory loss to consider.
By wanting to cut cost, many individuals do not realize that the benefit of saving a little money in the meantime may actually be more detrimental in the long run. Prescription drugs are precisely given with the particular dosage and duration in mind. Altering the formula in any way can lessen the effectiveness of the drug, or make it harmful to the patient. Furthermore, many medications are control released and are designed to release medication over the entire day. Techniques such as cutting them in half and taking only a part can alter its mechanism and affect the potency. In the end, it may turn out to be more costly as the ailment you are trying to treat or regulate is not properly addressed. As former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Coop correctly stated, “A drug can’t work if you’re not taking it.” Seniors are the most affected by this problem since they generally have the most pills to take.
Chuck Cruden, a former senior’s advocate who worked for an organization that focused on issues specific for the elderly, states that high cost is the number one problem. According to him, many of them live on a fixed income while the cost of living continues to rise. However, Cruden is also aware that altering or skipping medication is not the proper response. “It’s not something to gamble with,” he points out. Instead, there are several ways a patient can try to circumvent the problem. While it is not applicable to all, generics are often a good option as they can be 60-70% lower than their branded counterparts. Also, paying for pharmaceutical bills in parts rather than in lump sum may be less of a burden on the cash flow.
Other than cost, medical noncompliance becomes an issue because of cognitive concerns such as forgetfulness, doubt whether the drug really works, a fear of possible side effects, a feeling that the symptoms of sickness have disappeared, confusing instructions, etc. To remedy this, assistance should be given which may be in the form of a caregiver or through assisted living. Caregivers are extremely important as they can help create a routine for the elder patient, which can greatly simplify an otherwise complicated and tedious routine. Even something as simple as arranging the medicine from the most, to the least important is already a big help since it increases the probability that the more serious ailments are treated first. Additionally, caregivers can employ more advanced tools such as pill cutters to make sure that the medicine is easier to swallow, as well as electronic tracking systems to help in reminding the patient of the right time to take the pill. In the same way, assisted living is also a viable option for patients who may need more constant and consistent care in order to avoid future complications.
Home care counselors at Safe at Home Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care, including live-in care. We are an elder care agency providing Home Care in Naperville.