Caregivers Also Face Health And Drug Adherence Risks

Armen Hareyan's picture


As the nation prepares to thank, support, educate, and celebrate its estimated 50 million caregivers during November's National Family Caregivers Month, one topic is sure to generate much discussion: the effect of added stress on caregivers' health.

Caregivers typically cater to patients or loved ones, ensuring they follow their therapeutic regimen of proper diet and exercise, and that they take their medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional. But as many caregivers put the needs of those they care for first, their own health tends to take a backseat. In fact, a growing body of research is finding that caregivers are at an increased risk for developing a host of mental and physical illnesses-much of which result from stress, exhaustion, and self-neglect.

One potential consequence of increased stress and decreased attention to personal health management, is not taking medication as prescribed, also known as lack of medication adherence. Lack of medication adherence is a major public health issue that affects people regardless of age, ethnicity, income level, or sex. This problem can lead to worsening of the disease, preventable death, unnecessary hospitalization, and increased healthcare costs.


With these consequences in mind, caregivers and their families should consider talking to their healthcare professionals about proper medication use, benefits, potential side effects, allergic sensitivities, and any factors that might discourage people from taking medicines as directed. In addition, caregivers and their patients should consider the following tips to stay on track with their medication regimen:

-- Have a copy of all medication information and directions for use nearby.

-- Use a laminated sheet of paper or water repellent notebook to write down and track daily medication dosing.

-- Develop medication reminder techniques that prompt you to associate medicine taking with another regular daily activity such as brushing your teeth or mealtime.

-- Consider pill dispensers that have alarms to remind you to take medicine at specified times. Telephone based reminder systems may also be helpful. Pharmacies, Web sites and caregiver associations may be helpful resources.