In the United States, 12 percent of the population consists of people ages 65 and older. But, according to Medscape, that same 12 percent of the population is responsible for 34 percent of all prescription medication use in the country.
With medication use so common among older adults, there is plenty of room for error: About 60 percent of older adults take medications incorrectly, and as many as 140,000 seniors die due to incorrect medication usage every year.
Common Medication Challenges in Senior Care Facilities
Ensuring safe, appropriate medication management practices in senior care facilities is challenging for many reasons:
- Older adults may have multiple doctors who each prescribe different medications. This increases the risk of medication interactions and overlap, where seniors may take multiple medications with the same or similar effects.
- As seniors experience issues like memory impairment, vision impairment, and cognitive decline, they may be at an increased risk of incorrectly taking medications, including skipping or taking doses twice.
- Older adults on fixed budgets may be concerned about affording medications, causing them to either not fill prescriptions or to try to stretch medications by taking doses that are smaller or less frequent than prescribed.
- Older adults who lack transportation or who are experiencing cognitive decline may find it difficult to remember to refill their medications, or may not have a way to get their medications refilled on time.
Pharmacy Solutions for Senior Care
Thanks to an increasing awareness of the needs of the aging population, as well as the benefits of technological advancements, senior care facilities and settings can explore many pharmacy solutions. These solutions can help to ensure patient safety and wellbeing, and they can also help to streamline staff processes for improved accuracy and time-saving benefits.
Pre-packaged medication helps to remove the room for error common with traditional pill boxes. Products like PillPack help to ensure more consistent and accurate medication dosages, and they also offer the convenience of medication delivered right to a senior’s doorstep.
PillPack sorts medications by both date and time, delivering the appropriate doses in convenient, clearly labeled packages. The service also monitors and manages refills so that seniors always have a supply of the medications they need. This solution is ideal for older adults in home care settings.
Medication packs are also available for professional care settings. Paxit, one of the many pharmacy solutions offered by Remedi SeniorCare, offers 24-hour unit-dose packaging. Each package is designed for a nurse to administer to a resident and organizes medications in a simple way that helps prevent errors.
Jeffrey Stamps, R.Ph., president and chief executive officer of Remedi SeniorCare, explains that Paxit offers many advantages over standard punch systems. “With traditional punch card systems, if a patient is on six or seven medications, a nurse has to take a container out of the cart, express the medication, and then repeat that process six times. With Paxit, the nurse takes out one organized bag with all of the medications, and each medication is individually labeled. This saves nurses a tremendous amount of time and it’s safer for residents; there isn’t the risk of medications being mixed up or confused.”
Because Paxit bills only for the medications that a resident takes, it makes for easy medication changes and helps to minimize waste. The company bills retrospectively, while most pharmacies bill when they dispense medications. This simple change means nurses don’t have to worry about returning medications to a pharmacy and tracking credits, which can help free up nurses’ energy and attention for patient care.
Paxit is also ideal for use during a resident’s time away from the facility. By sending a patient’s Paxit packs with them when they leave the facility during a day out with family or a trip to the hospital, it’s easy for anyone caring for the senior to maintain their schedule with appropriate medications and dosages.
In the second part of this 2-part series, we’ll look at pharmacy patient wellness programs and medication therapy management.