Objective: To determine the extent to which elderly patients experience and manage their (multiple) medication; which problems do they encounter with their drug use, to which extent are they adherent and how do they get their information about medication and administration? Design: Semi-structured interviews were held with elderly patients in their home environment.
Methods: Sixteen patients (two males, fourteen females) were interviewed, aged 73-93, living independently or in various types of nursing homes. All respondents were patients registered in one pharmacy in a rural Dutch district.
Results: All patients contacted were willing to cooperate with the interviewing. No major differences in experiences with medication use were found with respect to residential circumstances. Many respondents tailored their everyday activities to their daily drug use. They got help from neighbours, family, or from health care professionals. Guidance and instructions for use by pharmacist or general practitioner were not always clear, particularly when prescriptions were also given by medical specialists. Patients were assuming they were fully therapy adherent, but this did not always appear to be the case, particularly when medications had not been arranged in weekly dosing schemes. Respondents showed a remarkable confidence in their doctor and pharmacist. Changes in medication packaging were considered annoying.
Conclusions: Although their drug use has a major impact on their daily time tables, patients did usually not regard this as a problem. Their confidence in the general practitioner and pharmacist was great, but the community pharmacist may improve patient adherence and therapeutic safety by consulting and informing elderly patients in their own home environment.