‘Let’s Talk About Rx’ program; how to help seniors avoid problems with medications

Stock photo | Courtesy Home Instead Senior Care, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Aging can be fraught with challenges – health, finances and mobility, to name a few – but not all challenges are insurmountable; one such challenge that many seniors face has to do with managing a complex daily regimen of medications. As the possibility of making a mistake can be significant, Home Instead Senior Care is launching a public education program called “Let’s Talk About Rx.”

The “Let’s Talk” program encourages caregivers and family members to open a dialogue with seniors to discuss how they manage their prescriptions.

Let's Talk About Rx logo | Image courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care, St. George News
“Let’s Talk About Rx” logo | Image courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care, St. George News

The potential prescription problems facing the elderly are many, running the gamut from dietary to side effects to remembering to take their medications.

Craig King, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in St. George, said the program was designed to make caring for seniors easier and safer.

“There are so many seniors that are either missing medications, they’re taking too much of the medication, saying they are taking them when they’re not … we’re just trying to track that better and narrow down how we can help take care of them moving forward.”

Home Instead Senior Care offers a five-point plan of action for caregivers to implement with seniors in order to avoid dangerous drug interactions and to remain independent in their homes.

  1. Have either a family member or a professionally-trained caregiver accompany the senior to their doctor visits to help facilitate an understanding of the medicine and what its regimen entails
  2. Assign one doctor as a “gatekeeper” to keep track of medications and be able to discuss any issues that might arise with the prescription
  3. Establish use of medication organizers like pill boxes
  4. Establish a system of medication tracking
  5. Discuss ordering prescriptions from pharmacies that use simple, prepackaged daily doses of medication.

It isn’t always easy discussing the use and misuse of medications with elders, the “Let’s Talk” program acknowledges. It is a deeply personal subject and many seniors are accustomed to managing medications on their own. Yet the dangers of medication misuse can be dangerous, even fatal.

Tracking medication is very important, King said. His organization uses a tracker to list all of a senior’s medications, prescription or otherwise. When the senior goes to the doctor, the tracker is utilized to ensure all of the doses have been taken, refills still remain and that the medication is working as it should so that these issues can be addressed during the visit with the physician.

Home Instead has had elderly clients who were flushing their prescriptions down the toilet, King said, or simply not taking them.

“We need to make sure that not only are our caregivers educated and helping our seniors take those medications … but also making sure that there is not another issue going on there like maybe dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

Stock image | Photo courtesy of Home Instead Health Care, St. George News
Stock image | Photo courtesy of Home Instead Health Care, St. George News

Brad Stapley, owner of Stapley Pharmacy in St. George, said that his business offers a variety of services to help seniors manage their prescriptions.

“We have auto-refill services that can automatically refill your prescription. We have numerous contracts with third parties that allow 90-day supplies at the local pharmacy,” Stapley said. “We have blister packs, we have strip packaging, we have bubble cards … that can help people be compliant and keep their independence and stay home at their own house.”

The various types of packaging give people dosing options besides a single bottle full of pills, Stapley said. The packaging options offer daily doses, breakfast-lunch-dinner-and-bedtime doses and weekly doses.

Another option that Stapley Pharmacy and numerous other pharmacies are offering is medication synchronization. This option allows all medications to be filled during a single appointment rather than during multiple visits.

“We’re encouraging the Southern Utah area to have these conversations with their families because we’ve seen that seniors’ ability to remain independent in their homes is greatly dependent on their ability to manage their medications,” King said. “If families see any signs that their senior loved one may be having difficulties – such as unintended weight loss or full medicine bottles – we encourage them to help their senior loved one, serving as a second set of eyes and ears, or ask for help.”

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Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

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