This is an example of a Medication Adhere Card (MAC) in a home setting, using candy to represent the different medications. This is an example of a Medication Adhere Card (MAC) in a home setting, using candy to represent the different medications.

 

At Gary and Mary West PACE, medication management is a partnership between the participant, our expert medical team, and other specialists who take part in their care. Medication management is a system to help participants stay on top of taking their medications, and ensure there are no drug interactions or severe side effects. This helps decrease emergency room and hospital visits among seniors. At West PACE, we work with the participant directly to make this process catered to their specific needs and lifestyle.

Medication misuse in seniors threatens health and safety

We recently helped a senior who was referred to West PACE by Adult Protective Services. The senior, who lived alone, called 911 repeatedly to be transported to the hospital to obtain prescription pain medications, as they were no longer able to obtain from medical providers in the community. Our team was asked to help address misuse of the medical system in order to receive medications.

During the first months of joining our PACE program, the participant told us they called 911 to get pain medications because when they felt anxious, their pain was exacerbated. West PACE clinical staff worked with the participant to find the root cause of their pain and better control it with a multidimensional approach. By addressing the participants isolation anxiety through socialization at our San Marcos day center, the participant’s day to day pain became manageable. The participant received medications from staff each day during their visits.

To combat the overuse of the medical system and the isolation this participant was feeling, we determined it was best to have this individual attend our PACE day center in San Marcos during the week to receive medications from staff each day. On weekends, our home care staff came to their home to observe and ensure medications were taken by the participant. Our visits also provided social engagement, minimizing isolation, and also gave us an opportunity to visually check the bubble pack which organizes their medications. 

Working with our participant, together we successfully decreased the number of emergency room visits, improved pain management, and increased the participant’s quality of life.

What are the best ways to manage medications in seniors?

There are many different forms of medication management. One of the most popular are Medication Adhere Cards (MAC) “bubble packs.” Through this “bingo card” method, medication is placed in individual pack labeled for the specific day and time the medication needs to be taken. The pharmacy sends out the pods once a month so the participant has 28 days of medication right then and there. “This can be really useful for seniors who have mild memory impairment because they can see if the medication for that day has been consumed or not,” says Hannah Taylor, clinic nurse, at West PACE.

“Medication management is so specific to each participant. It looks different for each and every person. For some, it could be to manage pain, for others it could be adjusting their lifestyle to get in the habit of taking whatever it is they need. It is so specific to each person. One of the roles of a nurse is to learn what it is our participants need, but more so how we can gauge our care to meet their needs,” says Hannah.

Why is medication management important?

If a participant takes multiple prescriptions, there is a higher chance of drug interaction. Our team closely analyzes their medications and how they may negatively interact with one another. When medication errors occur, they can lead to harmful reactions and possibly hospitalization. Taking medication correctly is not only essential to manage current health conditions and symptoms, but prevent future difficulties.

Seniors use more medications than any other age group in the United States. Because of this, it is absolutely necessary their medication is managed as best as possible. There are many factors to consider with medication management and it can be extremely overwhelming. Some of these factors include changes in body weight which can affect how long medicine stays in the body, remembering instructions, and administering prescriptions to the participant regardless of who the provider is. This care coordination will help minimize adverse drug interactions.

Can West PACE help me manage medications?

At Gary and Mary West PACE, we do everything we can to keep our participants safe and independent at home and medication management is definitely an aspect of this. We pride ourselves on creating a care plan that’s adjusted to their lifestyle and working closely with their families and caregivers. “One of the roles of a nurse is to learn what it is our participants need, but more so how we can gauge our care to meet their needs,” says Hannah.

If you have any questions about medication management, or are interested in having this type of assistance for your senior loved one, please call 760-280-2230 or email us today.

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