SENIORS HEALTH: Proper medication management essential

Confusion common when patients require various prescriptions.

  • Aug. 28, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Taking a variety of medications can be confusing

The Seniors Health Network each month poses a question to health-care professionals.

This month, Fraser Health pharmacist Paul Polachek and Dr. Adil Virani, director of Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services, were told:

I simply can’t keep track of all my medications. Some pills I take twice a day, some every other day and it’s very confusing.

Polachek and Virani respond:

Taking medications can be very complicated and the mismanagement of medication is a significant reason for people being admitted to hospital.

Following these steps should help:

• Either you, your family, your physician, your nurse practitioner or your pharmacist needs to recognize there is a problem with your medication management.

Perhaps you’re not taking the pills as prescribed or not taking them at the prescribed frequency. You should not make changes on your own, and family and health-care providers should never assume that you have understood all the instructions and are taking the medication as intended. Community pharmacists can play a vital role in providing information; and in checking your adherence to your schedule and ensuring you have a schedule; checking about the effects of the medication (both good and bad); and generally conducting a regular medication review.

• Your medications need to be organized.

This means either your doctor/nurse or your pharmacist should conduct a comprehensive medication review looking at everything you’re taking, why you’re taking it, whether it’s still safe and effective for you and, of course, whether you are actually taking it.

An easy-to-follow schedule should be written out for you, or you could also use blister packs, a dosette box or a machine called “Compu-med” that dispenses the medication for you.

It can also be helpful for your family to provide some oversight, particularly related to medication like opiates, anti-coagulants, anti-inflammatories and anti-depressants.

Even if someone called you once a day to remind you what the day is and inquire about whether you’ve taken your meds today would help.

• Supports for you are available throughout the community.

Having friends or family provide you some help or some helpful reminders, regular contact with your physician and pharmacist, and a well-organized system you understand are all important.

• Fraser Health has a pharmacist working out of the White Rock/South Surrey area who specializes in seniors’ medication management. When referred, he visits seniors at home after discharge from hospital and he also takes referrals from physicians, nurse practitioners, home health, seniors clinic or from other health-care professionals. He will help you organize and manage your medications at home.

Speak to your health-care provider for further details.

If you need to speak with a pharmacist and your community pharmacist is not available, you can call 811 and a pharmacist will provide advice.

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a coalition of seniors service providers funded by the Peace Arch Hospital & Community Health Foundation, and working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock’s office. If you have a question for publication, please email seniorshealthnetworksswr@gmail.com

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