Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

For Caregivers: The Importance of Medication Adherence & Tips

Did you know that 3 out of 4 people do NOT take their medications as directed? Or that 1 out of 3 people never fill their prescriptions and over 125,000 people die every year due to not taking their medications as directed? When medications are not taken as directed, this is called non-adherence.

This costs the U.S. $290 billion per year and a third of medication-related hospital admissions are linked to poor adherence. Medication non-adherence is a major public health issue.

As caregivers, you can make a difference! Elderly patients with caregivers are 40% less likely to be non-adherent compared to those without having a caregiver.

If your care recipient doesn’t take their medications as directed, they’re putting their health and future at risk. Medication adherence means fewer doctor visits, fewer emergency room visits, better quality of life, and a longer and healthier life for your care recipient. Talk to their doctor or pharmacist to make sure you understand how their medications can help improve their health.

Need help starting a conversation? Here are some questions to ask your care recipient’s doctor or pharmacist:

  1. What is the medicine called and what does it do?
  2. How and when should it be taken? And for how long?
  3. What if a dose is missed?
  4. Are there any side effects?
  5. Is it safe to take it with other medicine or vitamins?
  6. Can he/she stop taking it if he/she feels better?

Is your care recipient having difficulty staying adherent to their medications? Here are some tips to improve medication adherence:

  • Develop a schedule or system that fits their normal routine/pair medication with an activity
  • Use daily or weekly pill boxes
  • Use an alarm
  • Post reminder notes
  • Ask the pharmacy about bubble packaging
  • Use delivery/mail order systems
  • Ask to change to a more tolerable medication if there are side effects
  • One trip refills i.e. syncing medications to one pick up date
  • Asking for a 90 day supply instead of 30
  • Sign up for automatic refills and refill reminder phone calls/texts
  • The Script Your Future website provides tools and resources to help you take your medicine—like text message reminders

Help your care recipient be in control of their health and script THEIR future! Help them take the pledge today to take their meds!

Additional resources:

1 Like

Our family members have schizophrenia. More than half of our adult family members do not believe they have any illness and many do not wish to take medications.

As caregivers, we have absolutely no control over this and sometimes feel guilty and ashamed when people suggest we do.

I agree that caregivers of people who understand their illnesses and medications can support medication compliance, but the majority of us here are not in that situation.


I don’t know a single person on this forum who doesn’t take medication seriously for their family member. But sometimes it’s not up to them. The patient has to be willing. So I don’t know that this post really belongs here, nor is it likely to be very well received by the forum participants. All of us are here because we’re advocates doing the best we can. Some of the newer members might find some benefit but I found the tone of the article to be very wrong for this forum where medication compliance is a battle that is not easily won and sometimes is a battle lost before it even begins because of the illness itself. When a patient believes they are not ill (called lack of insight), they will refuse medication. When insight isn’t an issue, almost all take their medication on a strict schedule. Others struggle with medications that become less effective with time. There are numerous topics about this throughout the forum.


I just “liked” the ideas for staying on top of meds.

Suggestions that help me…
and some of these were good.

Some aren’t…watch the 90 day refill trap…it doesn’t allow for changes. Our pdoc discourages this…what do you call it?..option?

Auto refills ARE helpful.
I HATE seeing one pill in the bottom of the bottle at bedtime meds!!!

And…for those who are younger…medication compliance is a regular thing that is discussed. I liked that there is something out there that speaks about responsibility.

Not that I truly think our son will ever be able to take responsibility for his own meds.

Sad…but true.
I don’t think he will.

But…I’ll never tell him that.

For now…he has reminders. He is praised when HE remembers meds, and I forget.
He is being taught how to track his reactions to med changes…and how to tell the pdoc about these. When to call the pdoc…how to ask the pharmacists…etc.

He might not pay attention, but he is listening. Even when zombified he is listening.

It’s the overall message.

On that note: tips to add to the list…

ONE parent administers or both use a Check List.
It’s way too easy to become confused.

LABEL the top of the bottle…with large letters which med is which…
As I need glasses now, and sometimes don’t carry them with.)

As far as control goes…
Wait…I am still laughing…

still laughing…