A new survey of senior citizens finds that almost one in five of those taking five or more prescription medications have experienced challenges in managing their medications.
Phil Cowley is the pharmacist at Cache Valley Pharmacy and he has seen it first hand in Cache Valley.
“The studies usually say that somewhere between 30-50 percent of all prescriptions are taken improperly, or not filled at all. I find that especially now with the number of restricted plans that we have that there are substantial problems within the senior community in Cache Valley.”
Cowley said there are quite a few medicine packaging systems and most pharmacies have something available.
“Those systems allow you to see when someone has decided to take medication differently than a physician originally prescribed it.”
He said in today’s world, with the number of “disease states” and with the aging population, five or more medications is not considered a large number.
“If someone is diabetic they usually start out between six and eight medications as soon as they are diagnosed. Yesterday a report came out that dementia is now the most costly disease state in the United States. Someone with dementia would easily take well more than five medications.”
Cowley said it is often helpful for someone to come in and help you so you can feel better, and get better faster. Then medications can actually be reduced if they are taken properly.
“If you are currently trying to put together your own medications, and you are dealing with more than five, that’s a difficult task and you definitely want to speak to your pharmacist or your doctor and find a better packaging system than just doing it yourself.”
There are situations where a family takes over the finances of an elderly family member but the patient continues to manage his or her own medications.
“That can cause substantial side effects,” said Cowley. “Anything from bleeding risks or blood sugar risks. To me, I think I would take over administrating the medication as soon as I started having questions whether or not they could run their finances.”