Agency, pharmacies aid older adults


Staff reports



COLUMBUS – Certain types of medications and drug combinations can cause dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, and could contribute to a life-changing fall in older adults. The Ohio Department of Aging, through its STEADY U Ohio falls prevention initiative, is partnering with the Ohio Pharmacists Association and pharmacies around the state during the first week of April to help older Ohioans and their caregivers understand and minimize the risk of falling potentially caused by the medicines they take to remain healthy.

“One in three Ohioans over the age of 60 will experience a fall this year, and falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among our elders,” says Beverley L. Laubert, interim director of the department. “Prevention starts by understanding the risks, and we thank our pharmacy partners for having this crucial conversation with their customers.”

“More than 50 percent of patients take their medicines incorrectly, resulting in approximately 10 percent of hospital admissions,” says Ernest Boyd, Pharmacist, executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association. “Be sure your pharmacist regularly reviews your medication with you. Whenever you get a new prescription, ask the pharmacist how to take it and about side effects, drug interactions and other important information. That conversation could help you avoid a fall and literally save your life.”

During the week that begins Sunday, participating pharmacies around the state will provide free, confidential medicine reviews for older adults who visit their locations. Pharmacy staff will review customers’ medicine usage and identify those medicines and combinations that may increase the risk for falls. Customers will receive a list of their potentially problem medicines to take to their health care professionals so that they can discuss risks and appropriate treatment options.

Dates and times vary by location. Participating pharmacies include all 249 Ohio Walgreens Pharmacy locations, more than 100 Kroger Pharmacy locations, and select Discount Drug Mart Pharmacy, Fruth Pharmacy, NEON Health Center Pharmacy, Rite Aid Pharmacy and Shriver’s Pharmacy locations, as well as other local pharmacies. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov for the schedule and complete list of participating pharmacies.

Tips from STEADY U Ohio

§ Maintain a list of all the medicines you take. Include doses, frequency and prescribing doctor. Also include any over-the-counter medicines (pain relievers, antacids, cold medicines, etc.) or supplements you take. Bring the list with you to doctor’s appointments and when you pick up prescriptions.

§ Read the label. If it says “may cause dizziness or drowsiness,” or cautions against driving, ask about the best time to take it to avoid falls. Also ask about alternative treatments with less hazardous side effects.

§ Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If you find it hard to stick to a medication schedule or if you have trouble telling medicines apart, your doctor or pharmacist may have some ideas to help. Similarly, ask your doctor to write detailed directions on how and when to take your medications.

§ Talk to your doctor about changes to your eating habits (such as a low-fat or high-calcium diet), as well as how much caffeine and alcohol you consume, as these can affect how your medicines work.

§ Ask your pharmacist about easier-to-read labels and instructions if you have trouble reading warnings or directions on your medicine containers.

§ Choose over-the-counter medicines that only have the ingredients you need. Your pharmacist can help select the best medicine options for your symptoms.

Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the No. 1 cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.

The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. ODA works with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. ODA programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.

Staff reports