Characteristics of Elderly Patients Needing Help with Medication

Certain characteristics could potentially make patients more likely to need assistance with their medications.

A recent study identified traits that could make an elderly person more likely to need assistance with their medications.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers analyzed data from 4106 elderly patients with various health conditions, such as poor vision or hearing, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart attack, or cancer. Researchers asked the patients if they were able to take their medication at the correct times and in the correct dosages.

At baseline, researchers found 7.1% of patients needed assistance with their medications, and 11% of patients needed assistance at the follow-up of 3 years.

At baseline and follow-up, researchers discovered that being age 75 or older, male gender, having memory problems, and having problems with day-to-day tasks, made patients more likely to need assistance with medications. Patients age 80 and above were 1.5 to 3 times more likely to need assistance with their medication compared with patients who were 65- to 69-years-old.

Men were approximately 1.5 to 2 times more likely to need assistance compared with women. Patients with memory problems were also 3 to 5 times more likely to need assistance.

"Health conditions may worsen or not improve if older adults skip or don't take their medications properly," concluded researcher Brenda D. Jamerson, PharmD. "Serious side effects may also occur from taking medications at the wrong time or in the wrong dose. Some older adults can put themselves at risk for experiencing problems if they don't receive the assistance they may need.”