Americans are living longer and are more active than ever. Medications are playing an important role for better health, especially for older adults that are more likely living with one or more chronic illnesses. Most patients 65 and older have at least one chronic health condition and are taking multiple medications. Advances in medicine have led to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment of chronic conditions. However, medication use and adherence in older adults are also more likely to be associated with increased safety concerns. Recognizing the benefits of medicine, while minimizing and managing the risks is important to chronic care management.
Older patients often fail to adhere to prescribed medications. In older adults, medication non-adherence accounts for more than a quarter of hospital admissions, 1 out of 4 nursing home admissions, and 1 out of 5 preventable adverse drug events in the home. An estimated 125,000 deaths annually occur costing $100 billion per year, including approximately $47 billion for drug-related hospitalizations due to medication non-adherence and interactions. The consequences of non-adherence may be difficult to detect especially in older patients that live alone, have wide gaps in refills, receive prescriptions from more than one doctor or that use both online and community pharmacies.