Using Daily Routines to Promote Medication Adherence in Older Adults

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Abstract

PURPOSE. To understand the medication routines used by older adults taking four or more medications daily.

METHOD. One hundred forty-nine community-dwelling older adults were interviewed about the individual routines, storage locations, equipment, and assistance that enabled their adherence to a medication regimen. A subsample of 84 older adults was observed completing one medication routine in their home environments.

FINDINGS. Medication habits were embedded in mealtime, wake-up, and sleep routines for 91% of the sample. Participants developed unique, individualized behaviors for taking medications that were choreographed within broader daily routines. The primary locations for storing medications were the kitchen and bathroom. Equipment used to promote adherence was primarily pillboxes or self-made adaptations. More than 50% of the entire sample required some type of assistance related to medication adherence.

IMPLICATIONS. Findings support the role of occupational therapists in collaborating with clients to develop individualized medication routines to promote medication adherence.

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