DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.



Estimates show that as many as 25 percent of elderly people are taking at least three medications. Most often, noncompliance is in the form of under use of a prescribed drug (Salzman, 1996).


According to Adult Medication, non-compliance can be due to the following:

  • Visual Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Impaired Mobility and Dexterity

Visual Impairment: Reports show that there are approximately 5.5 million people, aged 65 and older, who have limited or no vision. Low vision and blindness affect a person's ability to read prescription labels, or determine the color and markings in order to accurately identify a medication. These patients must ultimately rely on memory or ask someone else for help. This can lead to a patient not taking their medications correctly or even at all.


Hearing Impairment: Hearing loss increases with age. One-third of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing problems and almost half the people who are 85 and older have hearing loss. The natural aging process affects the patient’s ability to understand speech such as medication dosage directions given by a pharmacist.


Cognitive Impairment: Impaired cognition is directly correlated with poor medication adherence. Older adults with cognitive decline or memory problems may have difficulty understanding how to take their medications, forget to take a dose, or take too much.


Dexterity: Impaired dexterity, along with reduced muscle strength and/or flexibility, can limit a person’s ability to open product packages, medication containers, and use medical devices.


References: Salzman, C. (1996). Medication compliance in the elderly. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.