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5 Ways Pharmacists Can Help Your Aging Adult

Pharmacists play a role as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team for an older adult. Their role is critical in improving the patient’s care and life.

For older adults, it can be helpful to develop a relationship with a pharmacist and use the same pharmacist regularly. As pharmacists learn about an individual’s unique needs and circumstances, they can help provide consistent care and help prevent drug-related problems.

Pharmacists are often the most accessible health care practitioner. They can give patients drug information, monitor use and act as a liaison between physicians and patients. Additionally, they can provide information on interactions between drugs, other medications, supplements and food.

An interdisciplinary care team for the elderly

Pharmacists do more than just give out prescription medication. They are valuable members of a larger interdisciplinary team caring for an older individual. As part of a healthcare team, pharmacists can improve an elderly patient’s care. They can make recommendations in many areas, including:

  • Dosing and administration
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Intravenous drug compatibility
  • Drug monitoring
  • Guidelines for treatment
  • Approved and off-label indications

Types of pharmacists

Hospital Pharmacists

Hospital pharmacists work in a hospital setting in coordination with healthcare professionals to provide care for patients. They check prescription orders for potential side effects and drug interactions and dispense medications. They may also prepare IV bags, oral syringes and creams for patients.

Geriatric Pharmacists

Geriatric pharmacists specialize in the care of older adults. Some geriatric pharmacists specialize in dispensing medicines and counseling older patients about those medicines. Other geriatric pharmacists work as part of a healthcare team providing care for individuals in nursing and hospice facilities.

Retail Pharmacists

Retail pharmacists are probably the best known pharmacists. These pharmacists work in retail and commercial settings and have frequent patient interaction. They check medications and provide drug counseling to patients. Retail pharmacists are often trusted by patients and asked their advice for different medications.

5 ways pharmacists can help your aging adult

  1. Medication use and adherencePharmacists can educate older adults and their families on how to take certain drugs. Instructions can be especially helpful with things like injectables, drops, inhalers, or patches that are more complicated.
  2. Medication managementThe average adult over age 65 takes between 14 and 18 different prescription medications each year. Pharmacists can educate older adults on how these medications help them with their condition (agingcare.com). By keeping communication lines open between the patient, pharmacist and doctor, the pharmacist can help the patient manage their multiple prescriptions.
  3. Tailored carePharmacists can provide tailored care to individuals who may need it, including:Supplying drugs to patients in ways that are accessible to them, such as providing easy open bottles or pills without wrappers.Having drug labels and printed material in large type and in the patient’s native language so they are easy to read.

  4. Source of information for the patient and familyIn addition to providing information on drug interactions and side effects, pharmacists can also teach seniors and their families how to use drug calendar reminders, drug dispensing devices and pill crushers. Having these valuable tools can save time and frustration down the road.
  5. Positive Health OutcomesAs pharmacists help with medication adherence, a patient’s health can improve. One study showed that the pharmacist’s role helped lead to a reduction in falls and better medicine optimization (pharmacymagazine.co.uk). As pharmacists better understand a patient’s condition they can offer alternative medications that may work better for the patient.

Home Care Tip:

Some pharmacists will make house calls to identify and resolve medication-related issues.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Ted Wolfendale