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Poll: Many seniors struggle with taking prescriptions
December 29th, 2009
FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. – Senior citizens are finding it challenging to manage their daily medications, with many taking a handful of prescriptions regularly and some facing a double-digit pill dosage each day, according to a new survey.
The national poll, conducted by Kelton Research for Medco Health Solutions Inc., found that 51% of respondents take at least five prescription drugs on a regular basis and one in four take 10 to 19 pills daily. The study surveyed more than 1,000 people ages 65 and older who use medications.
Roughly 57% of those polled said they forget to take their medications. And the more drugs they use, the more likely they are to forget to take them, the study revealed. Among respondents using five or more medications, 63% said they forget doses, compared with 51% for people who take fewer medicines.
The survey also discovered that the more medications seniors take, the less they seem to know about them. Of seniors using five or more prescription drugs, 34% indicated that they don't feel knowledgeable enough about the drugs they're prescribed or their potential side effects, and 35% aren't sure they can name all the medications they use.
Multiple medication use is also squeezing seniors financially. The ability to afford their drugs is the top concern among 40% of seniors taking five or more prescriptions daily, followed by their worry over drug side effects (23%) and interactions (17%), according to the study.
And Medco reported that of those enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, 37% are most concerned about not being able to afford their medications, and 49% want to know how to delay or avoid falling into the coverage gap, better known as the "doughnut hole."
The survey also found that 60% of Medicare beneficiaries have taken steps to delay reaching the doughnut hole, such as using generic drugs (76%) and asking for free samples from their doctors (39%).