Blog: Why We Need To Talk About Our Medicines

Alliance for Aging Research Team October 26, 2020 Blog

October is Talk About Your Medicines Month, and this year’s theme is “On Track with Your Meds and Your Health.” Learn more about why talking about your medicines is critical for older adults in this blog post from our friends at BeMedWise and NeedyMeds:

According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly a third of American adults didn’t take their medications as prescribed in 2019.

Cost was the number one reason, explains Rich Sagall, M.D., the president of NeedyMeds. “Although other issues such as the patient’s lack of understanding why, how, and when to take medicine are also factors. Poverty, poor housing conditions, food insecurity and poor health-literacy also play a role.”

To help combat this crisis, BeMedWise, a project of NeedyMeds (with the support of the Alliance for Aging Research), made medication adherence 2020’s Talk About Your Medicines Month theme.

Deborah Davidson, the project director for BeMedWise and Talk About Your Medicines Month, says the goal of Talk About Your Medicines Month is to raise awareness of medication issues, as well as empower consumers and patients to be more informed about and active in decisions affecting their use of medicines.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to take steps to improve medication adherence – patients, caregivers, prescribers, and pharmacists, “ Deborah said.

According to Mayo Clinic researchers, 70% of Americans take at least one prescription medicine, 50% take two, and up to 20% take five or more medications every day.

“With statistics like that, we need everyone’s participation to make medication adherence a priority,” Deborah said.

Since the inability to pay for medication is possibly the biggest obstacle to adherence in our country, NeedyMeds helps those in need overcome this barrier by connecting them to programs that will help them afford their healthcare expenses. This is done free and anonymously through a website (NeedyMeds.org) and helpline (1-800-503-6897).

TalkAboutYourMedicines.org offers a wealth of free information including an in-depth overview of the issue, reference reports, comprehensive resource library, a social media campaign toolkit, downloadable handouts and tip sheets, and a short video for simple steps patients and healthcare professionals can take to improve medication adherence.

Importantly, Talk About Your Medicines provides tips for older adults and their caregivers, who are especially at risk when they don’t take their medicines as prescribed. There are many underlying factors, including polypharmacy, and the risk of adverse drug events in the older adult population such as falls, confusion, functional decline, and dementia or difficulty remembering. The site also explains the impact of non-adherence, breaks down the roles of both healthcare professionals and patient’s roles in adherence, and offers tips and suggestions for overcoming adherence barriers.

BeMedWise also provides additional tips to help the older adults and their caregivers, particularly during the pandemic as older adults are at an increased risk of developing severe health complications due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Together we can spread the word, educate our communities and offer tips on keeping us all on track with our meds and our health.