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A Pat on the Head Helps Seniors Remember Daily Meds

Aug 1, 2009
Doing something unusual, like knocking on wood or patting yourself on the head, while taking a daily dose of medicine may be an effective strategy to help seniors remember whether they’ve already taken their daily medications, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis. We’ve all heard warnings that some medications may be habit-forming, but research also shows that “getting into the habit” of taking a daily medicine in a routine and precise fashion can be a befuddling challenge for some older adults, many of whom tend to err on the side of over-medication, taking a dangerous second dose when in doubt about the first. “In extended medication-taking situations, the habitual nature of the task may make it difficult for older adults to remember whether or not they took the medication on a particular day, especially if pill boxes are not used,” explains Mark McDaniel, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.