ELKTON — For many seniors, medications play an important part in their day to day routine. As such, pharmacists Karen Slagle and Don Steele with Northside Pharmacy in Elkton say it is important for patients to stay on top of their medication, especially if they are taking several different types of medication.
Steele said it is important for patients to not only stay on top of their medications, but to be sure to always keep their pharmacy and all of the doctors they may see apprised of their medications. Steele noted that drugs interact in a variety of different ways and it is important for pharmacies to have a list of all the medications a patient may be on.
Slagle advised patients to make a list of all medications they may be on to take with them to the pharmacy and to physician appointments.
Steele said that the list of medications should also include any over-the-counter medications a patient may be taking.
“Even over-the-counter drugs can have side effects or interaction issues with other drugs,” he said.
Both Steele and Slagle said it helps if patients have all of their prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy, but noted that many patients are getting prescriptions via mail order due to some insurance companies incentivizing patients to get their prescriptions through that conduit.
As a practical matter, Steele and Slagle said they both regularly ask their patients to provide a list of any and all medications they are on, so they can better advise them about the risk of side effects and drug interaction precautions.
Get checked for diabetes
Another important thing for seniors to do is to get checked for diabetes. Slagle said that 28 percent of people over the age of 65 have diabetes and she recommended anyone over 65 to get checked for the disease.
She said that one of the major risk areas for those with diabetes is their feet. Slagle said that under Medicare part B, those patients with diabetes and at least one other underlying condition including: poor circulation, foot deformity, peripheral neuropathy with evidence of callus formation, history of pre-ulcerative callus, history of previous foot ulceration or a history of partial or complete amputation of the foot, can get special diabetic shoes. She noted these shoes are specifically designed to protect the feet of those with diabetes.
At Northside Pharmacy, Durable Medical Equipment Specialist Doris McCoy works with patients to have their shoes specially fitted for their needs.
Other important issues
With the outbreak of COVID-19 there has been some delay in refilling prescriptions due to several factors, Steele and Slagle said.
Steele said it is important for seniors to keep tabs on when their prescriptions are about to run out.
“We have a lot of seniors lacking refills,” he said. “Part of the reason is that with COVID it has been more difficult to get ahold of doctors to approve refills.”
Steele also said that patients, especially senior patients have been hesitant to go to doctors’ offices or even the pharmacy due to the risk of COVID-19. He noted that many seniors, who are at higher risk, are more reluctant to go into places where they feel they may contract the disease.
Steele said it is important to stay up on refills because some drugs may be in limited supply or take time to refill and patients do not want to be rushing to get drugs they may desperately need.
With respect to medications, Steele said is also very important to be aware of any changes or anything unusual a patient may observe in taking medications, especially new medications, but even medications a patient may have been taking for a long period of time.
Slagle noted that even medications a patient has been on for years can display side-effects.
As COVID-19 is still a major concern, especially as we enter the fall season, Slagle said it is also important to stay up on immunizations including flu, shingles and pneumonia shots. She noted that with COVID it is especially important that patients do what they can to try to prevent other illnesses.