There’s no question that folks over 65 require more medical attention than their younger counterparts.
Increased medical needs usually imply increased pharmacological intervention, and as a consumer’s daily drug intake becomes more complex, it is crucial they have a relationship with their pharmacist.
That’s according to Sanjeev Nagpal, a partner at Rx Mart Pharmacy in Bellingham who has worked in both chain pharmacies and his independently-owned pharmacy since 2004.
“What I notice is that the corporations put significant pressure on their pharmacists that reduces the time they have to interact with individual patients,” he says. “At independently owned pharmacies, the pharmacists are more likely to have the time and interest to get to know their customers and establish a trusting, enduring relationship.”
Nagpal suggests seniors look for a pharmacist who is compassionate and makes them feel comfortable.
“Your pharmacist should address your overall needs and may be able to discuss non-pharmacological solutions to help resolve your problems,” he says.
Insomnia, a condition suffered by many seniors, is an example of one for which non-pharmacological interventions could potentially be more helpful than drugs.
“Taking drugs like Ambien can increase the risk of side effects like sleep walking, which might lead to falling,” he says. “A pharmacist who knows you well might be able to intervene in a timely manner and suggest other options, such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine and exercising more.”
Once you’ve selected a pharmacist, be prepared to reveal the list of drugs you’re taking, the regularity with which you take them and if possible, the reason for taking them. That’s part of the CMR or Comprehensive Medication Review and the 35- to 40-minute process is “super-important for folks age 65 and over,” Nagpal says.
“Your pharmacist should go through a CMR with you every six months, either in person or over the phone,” he insists.
If your pharmacist does nothing more than fill your prescription without asking questions about other drugs you may be taking, he or she will have no ability to predict potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Many seniors find their drug schedule confusing and would benefit from a blister pack, Nagpal says. That’s a daily schedule of drugs that’s been pre-packaged into individual portions and helps simplify the drug-taking process by clearly delineating which drugs and what dosage you need to take each day.
At Rx Mart Pharmacy blister packs are provided free of charge, but that’s not always the case. Some pharmacies add up to a $30 surcharge for this service.
At the end of the day, the television sitcom “Cheers” said it best in the song “You want to go where everyone knows your name.” In the context of pharmacies, that means you want a pharmacist who knows not just your name, but also your medical conditions, your compliance when it comes to drug-taking and your prescription list in its entirety.
Only with this knowledge, which comes from a trusting, personal relationship based on interest and mutual respect, can your pharmacist keep a keen eye on your best interests.