It’s an emergency to solve non-adherence to medication in the elderly. But where do we even start?
Today, 13% of the population is 60 years old and older. But by 2100, the global part of this age group is expected to reach 37%. The ageing population contributes to making non-adherence to medication a pressing and crucial problem to solve, which is, overall, nothing short of challenging.
The problem of non-adherence to medication is multi-faceted. Non-adherence is one apparent, “elephant-in-the-room” issue that hides many systemic problems, including lower health literacy and affordability in populations with a lower socioeconomic status, or who belong to different ethnic minorities.
Elderly people only see the amount of the challenges they must overcome grow over time. On top of common issues such as forgetfulness or cost, many experience impaired vision, audition, and difficulty managing the minuscule objects pills are. These factors can seriously impair health outcomes, knowing that almost 20% of elderly people must organize and make room for 10 or more medication in their daily lives.
The problem is now well-known. Research on the topic is increasing and innovators around the world come up with new products and services to support our oldest friends or family members.
But in the end of the day, increasing adherence has to be a team effort. As innovative as they can be, isolated initiatives cannot tackle the many, sometimes patient-dependant sides of the problem. All actors in the Healthcare value chain must take responsibility, from the conception of pharmaceuticals with easy-to-follow regimens to individual, provider-to-patient relationships.
Some of these long-term systemic changes are starting to gain traction, but in the meantime, faster interventions are needed to increase adherence. One of them is to optimize medication packaging. Indeed, research has shown that providing tailored regimen and medication information on the packaging proved useful to increase prescription refills and health outcomes.