Smith et al (2019) cite data showing that in Scotland, where 89% of older adults take one or more prescribed medications, there is a projected 25% increase in over-75s with complex health and social care needs. The authors identify sensory impairments (SIs) in older adults—visual, hearing or dual—as exerting significant impacts on the function and quality of life. This qualitative study explored the experiences and perspectives of 23 older adults with SIs receiving polypharmacy in 7 of Scotland's 14 Health Boards. Twelve participants had dual SI, 6 had visual impairment and 5 had hearing impairment.
Three main themes emerged: facilitators and barriers to prescription ordering and collection; medicine storage; and medication administration. For instance, participants with hearing impairment did not always hear medication instructions with clarity and predicted what had been said; participants with visual impairment relied on the texture and colours of medicine boxes or tablets; and changing medicine brands meant changing the shapes and colours that people with visual impairment depended upon, posing a risk to safe administration.
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