Stabilizing Chronic Health Conditions Depends on the Compliance of Medical Treatment
February 3, 2015
Aging brings with it several problems, including many chronic health conditions that can require regular care. One of the important parts of this care is making sure to properly comply with the medical treatment prescribed by doctors and caregivers. This may include regular intake of medications, routine medical check-ups, and scheduled testing. Whether it is a chronic medical condition like diabetes or hypertension, or problems related to sleep, anxiety, and so on, adhering to the advice of doctors and caregivers is absolutely essential.
Challenges Faced by Caregivers with Regard to Compliance
One of the biggest challenges faced by caregivers is seniors who refuse to comply with their recommended medical treatment. Caring for the elderly, especially those with chronic health conditions, can be quite daunting, given that most of these people prefer their independence and often balk at having to take medications. Non-compliance can happen both when a person doesn't fill his or her medication as prescribed by their medical practitioner, and when they neglect (or refuse) to complete the recommended dosage. In any case, before going on to finding ways to ensure compliance with medical treatment, it is important to identify the exact reason for such non-compliance.
Reasons for Non-compliance
In the case of seniors, non-compliance with the recommended medical treatment or procedure occurs due to multiple reasons:
- Forgetful nature: One of the main reasons why many senior citizens forget to take their medicines and miss their checkups or other medical tests is simple: they forget. The aging process reduces the ability of the person to remember things. Under these circumstances, it is natural for older individuals to forget that they need to take medications or go to a doctor's visit, which results in non-compliance. Having a medical alert system set up with reminders goes a long way in ensuring that they will not forget these important things.
- Non-belief: Another reason for non-compliance is that the elderly often do not believe that the drug in question is actually working. For instance, when a senior citizen has to take medications for blood pressure or cholesterol, chances are that there is no immediate sign of the drug working. In fact, these drugs take a long time to show actual results, which makes the patient feel that the medications are pointless, and encourages them to forego their recommended dosage.
- Side effects: The presence of actual side effects, as well as the fear of side effects, also leads to non-compliance in the elderly. Medications taken for various ailments by the elderly often cause certain side effects, which, given their advanced age, can be quite alarming to experience. When such a situation occurs, the senior in question refrains from taking the medications rather than experience the side effect. Add to this the fact that the independent nature of the senior will not allow him or her to actually talk about such occurrences or fears to the caregiver.
- Multiple prescriptions and medications: When the senior citizen is swamped with numerous medications that need to be taken, non-compliance is a commonality. This occurs either due to the overwhelming nature of the sheer number of drugs, or the inability of the senior to keep track of each dose and its timing.
Disappearance of symptoms and the need to save money are two other factors that contribute to such non-compliance. If an individual believes that the symptoms which caused the doctor or practitioner to prescribe the drug do not exist, non-compliance sets in even if the dosage is not complete. Additionally, when the elderly person believes that there is a need to save money, which can be achieved through stopping his or her medications, non-compliance rates shoot up.
Tips for Improving Compliance
Once the reasons for non-compliance are identified, the next step is to determine how to ensure compliance. Here are some simple tips that will help in this endeavor:
- Set a daily routine: Forgetfulness is the most common cause of non-compliance in elders. This can be overcome by setting daily routines with the help of the caregiver. For instance, medications could be taken in relation to another activity, such as while eating meals or right before going to bed. Once this routine is established, the senior in question will automatically take the medicines at this time.
- Using aids for boosting memory: Another simple way to ensure compliance is through the use of memory boosting aids. Medical alert systems are perfect companions for seniors who live independently and need to remember their medication dosage and timings. These units can be programmed in advance for the exact dosage that needs to be taken, as well as the time of taking such a dose. It is important to note that medications, especially those related to the central nervous system, need to be taken at exact times to ensure proper effect. These alert systems can be used to make sure that the senior is reminded of the medication at the appropriate moment.
- Reminder services for filling prescriptions: Similarly, medical alert systems can be used for programming reminder services for filling prescriptions. Non-compliance often occurs because seniors don't fill prescriptions on time. With the help of such services and alarms, elders can ensure absolute compliance by filling their prescriptions on time.
Since adherence to recommended medical procedures and treatment is vital for stabilizing chronic health conditions, the above mentioned tips can be used along with medical alert systems to ensure compliance.
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