While managing a prescription regimen can feel daunting for seniors even in the best of times, it’s important to ensure medications continue to be filled and taken as recommended to remain strong and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. Having the most up-to-date information and a thoughtful plan in place for a senior loved one to manage prescription and over-the-counter drugs safely can help alleviate stress and reduce potential hazards.
"The current pandemic has left many families and older adults feeling overwhelmed and underprepared,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “With so much misinformation and ambiguity surrounding COVID-19, medications are top of mind for many.”
Medication mismanagement is among the most serious health threats facing seniors. So, Home Instead reached out to Dr. Kyle Decker, PharmD, chief operating officer of Simple Meds, for guidance.
“In the middle of so much uncertainty, we’ve seen people turning to their community pharmacy for answers, or even just a calm and trusted voice,” Dr. Decker said. “Pharmacists are on the front line, working diligently to ensure patients get the medications and treatment they need.”
Dr. Decker shares answers to some of the most common questions pharmacists are receiving right now:
Q: Can a senior make a quick trip to my community pharmacy for a medication?
A: Older adults and others who are at high risk should follow the advice of the CDC, which includes staying home. A physical visit to the pharmacy isn’t required to pick up the medication an older adult might need. Consider home deliveries before supplies run short. Direct-mail pharmacy services like Simple Meds can automatically organize and sort medications, packaging each dose into clearly labeled packets that are mailed out every month. Many states are also temporarily permitting pharmacists to dispense emergency refills when a doctor visit isn’t possible.
Q: My loved one’s doctor appointment was cancelled. What should I do if she needs to get in?
A: You’re not out of luck! Many doctor’s offices and insurance carriers offer remote or telehealth options to obtain medical advice in the comfort of home. Through a virtual health service, an older adult can receive real-time care from a healthcare professional via video chat. If your senior begins to experience new or unidentified symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider to determine the next best step. A video chat or phone call with a healthcare professional is a simple and convenient way to get what you need when you can’t physically visit the office.
Q: What medications should a senior have on hand and does he need to stock up?
A: Recommend an older adult continue filling as always, rather than buying more than he needs. Stockpiling months of medication only leads to a tighter supply of popular medications. However, if he’s running short on the basics like acetaminophen, consider purchasing an extra bottle to have on hand. Acetaminophen is among the best home treatments for many mild illnesses.
Q: Is it safe to make hand sanitizer if none is available?
A: Regularly cleaning hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most important step in prevention of spreading illness. Hand sanitizer is the next best thing if soap is not readily available. However, the FDA recommends that consumers do not attempt to make their own hand sanitizer. When made incorrectly, hand sanitizer can be ineffective, and users can suffer from skin burns.
Q: How do I know what COVID-19 information is credible?
A: There’s an abundance of articles and research studies available regarding COVID-19. Some are reputable, and some are not. Now more than ever, it’s important to think critically about the sources you’re using to get information and avoid information overload. Choose a reputable source like the CDC, WHO or your local health authority and commit to checking it once in the morning and afternoon, rather than grazing throughout the day. While it is important to stay current, too much information can contribute to high stress levels for seniors and family caregivers alike. If you or an older adult has any concerns or questions regarding something you’ve read on the internet, contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
There’s no time like the present to establish a safe system or regimen to manage your loved one’s medications, and a local pharmacy or a medication service like Simple Meds can help.