Article by Steve Leuck, PharmD, Pharmacy Times

“I recently received a request from a pharmacy technician who fills in at our store now and again. He is in nursing school, and in his pharmacology class they were tasked with coming up with useful ways to teach seniors medication adherence and help them increase their understanding of their medications. He asked me if I had any specific tools I use with senior patients to fulfill these specific needs.

This just happens to be one of my favorite topics, and yes, I do have some favorite tools. Of course, each scenario has its own specific needs. However, with a little thought, I came up with my top 5 or 6 criteria in each section.

Helping seniors take their medications:

  1. It is super important to help people decrease the number of times they take pills each day. Most seniors tell me that they spread out taking their pills to 6 or 7 times per day (before and after each meal, bedtime, nap time, or a multitude of other specific situations.) Whenever possible, I like to help them decrease the number of dosing times to 3 per day at most, though sometimes, it must be 4, and other times, we can get it down to 2. We take some time to look at everything and discuss what can be given together. Often, seniors mistakenly think that they can’t take one pill with another. In this situation, simple education goes a long way toward ensuring medication adherence.
  2. Create a one-page personal medication record, and help them fill it out. Make sure that patients understand how to use this record.
  3. Help the senior pick out a useable pill box. Show them all the options, let them choose the one they want, and make sure that they know how to use it. I will even ask them to bring it in and show me what it looks like when it is filled up.
  4. Make sure that they fully understand what to do if they miss a dose.
  5. Most importantly, make sure that the senior understands that they shouldn’t guess with their medications. If they have a question, encourage them to call their pharmacist or doctor. Quite often, seniors feel as if they don’t want to bother their pharmacist with questions. They need to know and understand that we work for them and are a resource.”

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