It’s one of the strange ironies of life that when you need your memory the least, you have the most of it. When you are younger, you barely have to think about things like medicine, what to eat, or how to handle a routine. You can throw anything into your body and be fine. But older adults who have a stricter medical regiment also are the most likely to suffer lapses in memory and difficulty holding onto routines.
That can be dangerous. As the amount of medicine that older adults are on increases, and as we learn more and more about how to be healthy, having help sticking to the plan becomes even more crucial. That’s why home visits for medication management can be a literal lifesaver.
Home health services can be a vital part of well-being for older adults. They can keep medication management on track and diagnose if there is anything else that is needed. They can detect problems with dosages or other issues that impact health and can provide a friendly and helpful face for establishing routines. A program that started in Illinois can show the way for the entire country, including the Bay Area.
The Need for Home Medical Management Programs
When we think of Illinois these days, we generally think of a budget crisis. But even in the midst of that, the state recognizes the importance of providing home care to older adults who want to age in place, so they can live with the comfort and dignity they deserve. A pharmacist house call project, which began this year with 2,000 seniors, is, according to the Illinois Department on Aging, “aimed at preventing unnecessary hospital and nursing home admissions linked to medications.”
To be eligible for this free program, a person has to be over 60 years old, though if it is successful it can cover anyone who is eligible for Medicaid. The typical recipient of this program has one or more chronic illnesses which have to be treated by medication. And for older adults, there is a lot of medication. Look at some of these numbers.
- Adults over the age of 65 buy 30% of all prescription drugs in America.
- Adults over the age of 65 buy 40% of all over-counter-drugs in America.
- 87% of Americans over the age of 65 take one or more prescription drugs a day.
- Adults 65 and over take an average of four or more different prescriptions daily.
- Adults 65 and over are prescribed 27 new medicines each year (though they don’t always overlap).
- 65% of older adults do not talk to their doctors/pharmacists about their medication unless the doctor/pharmacist brings it up.
The last statistic is extremely interesting. Most people want to know about the kind of medications they take, and obviously want to take them in the healthiest possible manner. But most people are also nervous about bringing up questions on their own, or else just don’t have the chance. And given the bewildering amount of prescriptions throughout the year, that can be dangerous.
Home Visits Help Improper Medication Management and More
There are many older adults who need help with medication management. Besides the number of prescriptions to monitor, there are so many variables in each prescription that matter. A patient must keep track of:
- Mixing medicines
- Checking for the dangers of counterfeit medications (not generic, actually dangerous forgeries)
That’s a lot to remember and to forget. And it can be dangerous, even deadly, when something goes wrong. It can cause long-term hospital visits and crippling expenses, making it nearly impossible for older adults to continue to live at home. One mix-up can start a spiral of overwhelming costs that hinder or stop entirely the ability to live life with dignity.
That’s where home medical services can be extremely helpful. Medical management applications are wonderful, but having a human face to talk to, and who can make observations and ask questions, is irreplaceable. It can save lives.
It can also save costs for the state. That’s why Illinois, which is an economic basket case, approved this. Fewer hospital visits and healthier people mean fewer costs for everyone. People who have the ability to live well with just a few visits aren’t as reliant on medical services. And their lives have a higher quality, one that isn’t tethered to the fear of forgetting.
Home services can help with medication management, exercise, and a raft of other concerns. They allow for older adults to age in place with less fear, fewer hospital visits, and lower costs, even if memory slips a little. It is worth it for states and municipalities to invest in these life-saving and life-improving programs. It keeps the home the center of the world.
At Institute on Aging, we help older adults, their families, and caregivers with programs that allow seniors to age in place with dignity, health, and a spirit of exploration. This includes home health services that make the lives of older adults and their families easier. Connect with us today to learn more.