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Identifying the Unique Needs of Elderly Patients

  • February 12, 2014
  • RPh on the Go

elderly-patients-pharmacyElderly patients present healthcare needs that can be addressed by your pharmacy and its staff in a variety of ways. Aging presents a unique set of challenges for patients, and pharmacies must be prepared to meet their patients’ concerns with knowledge and treatment that exceeds expectations.

Some elderly patients may experience urinary incontinence, which can be embarrassing to discuss with their general practitioner. Pharmacists should not regard symptoms of overactive bladder as just a part of the aging process, and should instead treat it as its own diagnosis. Overactive bladder is more common in females than males. Pharmacists should ensure that patients will not experience any adverse drug reactions, and can follow up with a patient’s general practitioner to inquire about prescription overactive bladder medication if the patient feels that drug intervention is the right course of treatment for them. Over the counter options are available to patients to help improve quality of life while living with overactive bladder or occasional incontinence issues. These include disposable panty liners, underwear, and mattress guards. These OTC products can help patients improve their health and well being, and have been modernized and updated to be discreet and unobtrusive with new, lighter materials in their design, allowing for comfort and breathability.

Other issues faced by elderly patients can be pain management for conditions such as arthritis, and sleep management. Both of these problems are easily solved with OTC medication and follow up appointments with a patient’s general practitioner. Pain management for arthritis aims to reduce the inflammation of joints and help to restore a client’s range of movement. Topical creams can be analgesic, and stimulate a local inflammatory reaction to help alleviate any flare-up that may be occurring. Prescription medication for arthritis and RA may have been sent to your pharmacy by a patient’s general practitioner, and pharmacists must ensure that no drug interactions will be present if a patient is currently taking any medications. Over the counter NSAIDS and acetaminophen may also provide temporary relief of arthritis pain and joint flare ups. Patients who are undergoing platelet therapy or have a history of cardiac issues should not take OTC medications for treatment of arthritis due to possible interactions.

For elderly patients who have trouble sleeping, over the counter medications are available to treat this common trait that is associated with aging. 50% of adults over the age of 65 are estimated to suffer from insomnia. Helping patients get better sleep can improve their health and well being on a drastic level. Helping patients to establish a sleep schedule, and determining their course of treatment for their insomnia is the first step to treating these patients. Antihistamine containing medications such as ZzzQuil are often used as a safer alternative to sleep aids such as melatonin, which can have adverse side effects in some elderly patients.

Treating the elderly is something that local pharmacies can do with care and best practices, and ensuring that all patients are treated with utmost respect and their needs and concerns addressed.

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