Factors contributing to improper use of medication were examined in 40 patients aged 65 years or more who were in a home care program. They reported taking an average of 3.8 prescription medications and 1.2 nonprescription medications each. Pill counts showed that they were actually taking 57% of the prescribed medications; compliance decreased with the number of medications concurrently prescribed. Poor labelling instructions, difficulty opening childproof containers and misunderstanding of verbal instructions contributed to this problem. The patients tended to rely more on physicians than on pharmacists or visiting nurses for advice problems with medication.
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