Avoiding medication mayhem: Reducing medication in seniors
Crow Wing Energized, a grassroots approach to health and wellness in the community, has a variety of efforts in place to help the community make healthy choices.
The Crow Wing Energized Aging Coalition is the driving force that explores and implements strategies that address the social, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the aging population, their caregivers and families. The coalition has recently done work to promote aging in place, including falls prevention, and advance care planning.
The Crow Wing Energized Aging Coalition will be part of the upcoming Power of Aging—The Best is Yet to Come—Senior Expo Saturday, April 27, at the Log Church in Crosslake. The day will include mini talks addressing issues of interest to seniors or those approaching that age range. One area of concern as people age is the management of medication. Gail Smith, registered nurse, who is the parish nurse at Crosslake Lutheran Church and a nurse clinician at Minneapolis Heart Institute, is one of the presenters doing a mini talk around reducing medication in seniors.
Smith provided more information below on the upcoming presentation at the expo in her own words.
Presenter describes subject of talk
Steve Kappas, pharmacist at Crosslake Drug and I will be doing a humorous but illustrative 15-minute skit about the many ways that medications can be taken in an unsafe manner. As a nurse who does medication reconciliation (a process where we try to make sure that the medical record accurately reflects the medication therapies of a patient), it is clear that there are many areas where that process can break down.
It is not a judgment about the person taking the medication but rather a reflection of the many steps to taking a medication safely. It is actually difficult to quantify medication errors especially in the elderly since they are not reported or tracked. Patients also may be reluctant to tell providers that they have quit taking critical drugs for a variety of reasons. Several recent research studies have estimated non-compliance with drug therapy at somewhere around 20% of patients who take only one drug and up to 80% for those taking 10 or more.
One of the most common issues that is seen is that many patients are unable to tell you what medications they are taking (name of drug, tablet strength, dose, frequency, and why they are taking it). It certainly is a challenge since drug names are complicated by the fact that there are both generic and trade names for each medication (Tylenol equals acetaminophen). Many patients also take a number of medications that make the memory process even more challenging, especially in stressful situations such as the ER or when you cannot speak for yourself.
There are many ways to reduce that issue including:
• Carrying a complete med list (including dose and strength of pill),
• Using an app that lists meds (mymeds being one),
• Taking a photo of every pill bottle including over the counter meds and supplements,
• Using medical portals for med lists such as MyChart or MyHealth,
• Using only one pharmacy,
• Bringing your pill bottles to your appointments for a cross-checking process.
"It is all in my chart" is something we frequently hear in the hospital or clinic but since there is not a common record, there can be a delay in getting that information or it may not reflect changes if the patient has multiple doctors. For example, you may travel south for the winter and see another doctor there who may make changes to your medications. This change would not be included in your current medication list.
Another problem that creates medication issues is stopping a medication too soon. Patients may feel better, so stop critical meds such as antibiotics. Another reason patients stop medication is they believe that they are having an allergic reaction when it is actually a side effect of the medication. It is important to let your provider know about any negative reactions you have to a medication so that another medication can be prescribed or treatment for a true allergy can begin. Some medications do have side effects, especially nausea and diarrhea, but there may be compelling reasons to continue and the side effects can be treated so that a full course of therapy can be done.
Your local pharmacist is key to helping you find ways to take medications safely and accurately. They can help you review your list, give you ideas as to how to take them as prescribed and communicate with your provider if you are having issues. Carrying a complete medication list, requesting refills from your pharmacy at least a week before running out of medications, letting your doctor know how your medications are working or if you are having issues with them and knowing what your medications are doing is key to medication safety at any age.
Be sure to attend the Power of Aging Expo in Crosslake on April 27 for more ideas as to how to stay healthy.
Crosslake Power of Aging Expo April 27: retired WCCO sportscaster Mark Rosen keynote speaker
• What: Power of Aging Expo
• When: 8 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
• Where: Crosslake Evangelical Free Church (The Log Church).
Crosslake Cares, a local nonprofit focused on supporting the power of aging, invites area residents to the first Power of Aging Expo: The Best is Yet to Come. Admission is free.
The event features over 35 exhibitors showcasing services and opportunities for Crosslake area seniors, and food vendors providing a Taste of Greater Crosslake.
Mini talks include:
• The valuable and outsized contributions the 50-plus community brings to our country, state, and area, by Will Phillips, Minnesota state director of AARP,
• The latest on the National Loon Center by Carla White, National Loon Center,
• Your new community school says ..., by Todd Lyscio, executive director, Crosslake Community School,
• Medication Mayhem by Smith and Kappes, and
• Featured keynote is Mark Rosen, retired WCCO sportscaster, brought to you by Essentia Health.