On the Center’s blog this week we are highlighting several major presentations given at the 16th Annual Caregiver Conference “Striking a Balance” held on December 2nd in Austin, TX and sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and AGE of Central Texas.
The first topic we feature is medication management of the older adult, aimed at helping caregivers reduce the stress and anxiety they feel in supporting a loved one.
Pharmacist Christy Khoury-Dennis’ presentation discussed the physical and biological changes that come with aging. These changes include a slowing of the gastric emptying; total body fat increases, and total body water decreases, which can affect the absorption of nutrients and distribution of medications. Also, a patient may not be able to metabolize and excrete a medication easily. Due to this reality, monitoring and tracking the side effects of medication usage is important in order to make adjustments accordingly. However, Khoury-Dennis recommends that caregivers be proactive about asking healthcare providers questions about why a drug is being prescribed and if another is still required, especially if the patient is seeing several doctors and specialists. The concept of reducing or stopping medications that no longer benefit the patient is called deprescribing, and among its benefits are a reduction in risk of having drug-to-drug interactions and lower healthcare costs.
Additionally, there are services that caregivers can help patients access like medication synchronization, or when a pharmacist syncs all medications for pick-up or delivery on a single day. Consumers can go to the APHa Foundation website to find a local pharmacy that does this service, or inquire at their own pharmacy.
Another service that a patient can utilize is medication therapy management. This is when a pharmacist works with the patient and their providers to review the patient’s medication list and provide recommendations on it. During the consult the patient can also ask questions about proper medication usage. Central Texas residents age 60 and older can receive a free medication screening through the Area Agency on Aging by calling 512-916-6062.
Finally, to learn the dos and don’ts of storing and disposing of your medications safely, visit http://www.safeguardmymeds.org. There are also medication disposal centers under city jurisdictions throughout Texas, and some pharmacies and Walgreens locations that have disposal kiosks.
By utilizing these programs and services patients can actively manage their health by receiving updates to their medication lists when needed, reduce any adverse side effects they may experience from taking several medications, and save time and money.