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Remembering Your Medications: Older Are Wiser

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--Busy boomers are more likely than older people to forget to take the pills their doctors prescribe, according to a University of Michigan study that suggests older really is wiser.

"Being too busy, not being old, is what leads people to make mistakes in taking their medications," says Denise C. Park, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research who presented her findings this month at the annual meeting of the International Congress of Applied Psychology.

As the population ages, the problem of forgetting to take the pills your doctor ordered--the right number of the right kind at the right times--will affect more and more people who are trying to manage diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, arthritis and other chronic age-related conditions.

According to Park, the conventional view has been that as patients age, their medication adherence rates drop, just when their need to manage complicated medication schedules increases.

With funding from the National Institute on Aging, Park and colleagues carried out a study designed not only to learn who really is most likely to make mistakes, but also what kinds of errors occur and why they're being made.

For eight weeks, the researchers studied 121 men and women between the ages of 34 and 84, all diagnosed with moderately severe rheumatoid arthritis.

"We selected that illness because we expected medication adherence to be very good," says Park. "Taking the medications commonly prescribed leads to real relief from pain, stiffness, and other symptoms. And that gives people a strong motivation to take medications on schedule." Participants in the study took four types of medication, on average.

At the start of the study, researchers tested all the participants to determine their levels of depression and anxiety, and to see what their attitudes were about arthritis and disease in general. They also asked how helpful participants thought it was to take the spec
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Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
(734) 647-4416
University of Michigan
13-Aug-1998


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