Study shows the relationship between seniors and medications


Ted Simons: THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH FOUND THAT NEARLY ALL SENIORS IN THIS COUNTRY TAKE MEDICATION ON A DAILY BASIS, WITH MANY TAKES MORE THAN ONE KIND OF DRUG. 55% OF SENIORS ARE TAKING THEIR MEDICATION INCORRECTLY, INCLUDING -- WRONG DOSAGES. CPMMPN ISSUE IS INTERACTION WITH MEDICATION. PRODUCER SHANA FISCHER REPORTS.

Kelly Erdos: HAVE YOU HAD ANY MISDOSED AT ALL?

Reporter: EVERY QUESTION SHE ASKS GETS HER CLOSER TO SOLVING THE MYSTERY. WHY HER PATIENT JOHN BERGSTROM ISNT FEELING QUITE RIGHT.

John Bergstrom: I'M TAKING A DOSE THAT WAS PROBABLY A FRACTION OF WHAT I WAS TAKING WHEN I WAS 50 YEARS OLD.

Reporter: NOW NEARLY 80 JOHN IS ON MEDICATION. AS WITH MANY MEDICATIONS GETTING THE DOSAGE CORRECT TAKES TIME. AND THAT'S WHY ERDOS IS ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS AND TAKING BLOOD.

Kelly Erdos: WE SEE PATIENTS WHO ARE ON USUALLY MULTIPLE MEDICATIONS, A LOT OF GERIATRIC PATIENTS IN THIS AREA.

Reporter: SHE WORKS IN MESA. SHE HAS SEVERAL CLINICS SET UP IN ARIZONA AND OTHER STATES. THE GOAL IS TO MONITOR MEDICATION PROTOCOL AND MAKE ADJUSTMENTS AS NEEDED.

Virginia Boomershine: SO THE PATIENTS CAN BRING IN ALL OF THEIR MEDICATIONS, AND WE'LL GO ONE BY ONE, MAKE SURE THEY ARE TAKING IT CORRECTLY, AND SEE IF THERE IS ANY INTERACTION.

Reporter: ARIZONA'S LARGE SENIOR POPULATION MAKES CLINICS LIKE THESE CRITICAL AND FOR POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS.

Virginia Boomershine: SO THE SENIOR POPULATION IS ONE OF THE MORE NEEDIER POPULATIONS BECAUSE OF THE NUMBER OF POPULATIONS. USUALLY THE OLDER WE GET, THE MORE DISEASE STATES WE GET, AND WE HAVE MORE MEDICATIONS ON BOARD.

Reporter: BUT IN RECENT YEARS COMPLICATIONS FOR SENIORS ON MULTIPLE MEDICATIONS HAS BECOME EVEN MORE SERIOUS, IN PART DUE TO THE OVERPRESCRIBING OF OPIOIDS. A STUDY IN 2011, 15% OF SENIORS RECEIVED AN OPIOID PRESCRIPTION DURING A HOSPITAL DISCHARGE. THREE MONTHS LATER ALMOST HALF WERE STILL TAKING THE OPIOID. THE CONCERN IS NOT JUST THE OPIOID, BUT HOW THE OPIOID INTERACTS WITH THE OTHER MEDICATIONS. WHEN THEY ARE COMBINED WITH COMMON MEDICATION USED TO TREAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, PAIN MANAGEMENT OR ANTIANXIETY, THE SIDE EFFECTS CAN BE DEADLY. THE CENTER OF DISEASE FOR CONTROL AND PREVENTIONS SAYS IN 1999, THERE WERE 63 DEATHS, ALMOST A THIRD OF THOSE INVOLVED ALSO INVOLVED IN OPIOID. BY 2015, THE NUMBER OF DEATHS JUMPED TO 431 WITH MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS INVOLVING AN OPIOID. THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION ALARMED ENOUGH BY THIS INCREASE IT ISSUED AN BLACK BOX PRECAUTION.

Virginia Boomershine: THE OPIOIDS HAVE THE SAME SIDE EFFECTS, SO WHEN YOU COMBINE THEM, IT'S ADDITIVE.

Reporter: AND PATIENT MAY NOT RECOGNIZE THEY ARE HAVING AN ISSUE.

Kelly Erdos: ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE SLOWLY GOING UP ON DOSES OF OTHER MEDICATIONS. IT MAY NOT SOMETHING THAT, OFF THE TOP OF THEIR HEAD, THEY ARE ABLE TO IDENTIFY

Reporter: THAT'S WHY SHE BELIEVES IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR THE PATIENT TO BE ACUTELY AWARE OF HOW THEY ARE FEELING.

Kelly Erdos: CHECKING IN WITH YOURSELF, NOTICING CHANGES, BECAUSE A LOT OF THESE THINGS MIGHT BE GRADUAL, SO YOU SKIP CERTAIN MEDICATIONS, YOU FEEL OKAY AT THE BEGINNING, AND OVER THE COURSE OF A FEW WEEKS, YOU START TO FEEL NOT AS GOOD. IF YOU LOOK DAY TO DAY, IT MIGHT NOT BE A BIG CHANGE. THEN YOU WOULD LOOK AT HOW YOU FELT NOW COMPARED TO TWO OR THREE WEEKS AGO, THERE MIGHT BE A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE, SO REALLY, PATIENTS BEING THEIR OWN ADVOCATE, KNOWING WHY THEY ARE ON CERTAIN MEDICATIONS, AND WOULD BEING PART OF THE HEALTH CARE TEAM.

Reporter: AND SHE ENCOURAGES PATIENTS TO GET THEIR FAMILY INVOLVED, IF THEY CAN, IN THEIR TREATMENT AS WELL.

Kelly Erdos: REALLY MAKING SURE THE FAMILY IS INVOLVED IN KNOWING WHAT PRESCRIPTION GRANDPA IS ON, WHY HE'S TAKING THEM, ASKING IF HE HAS QUESTIONS, AND REALLY BEING A HEALTH ADVOCATE AS WELL.

Reporter: JOHN CREDITS HIS BACKGROUND AS A DOCTOR WITH HELPING HIM RECOGNIZE HE WAS NOT AT 100%.

John Bergstrom AS A PRACTICING PHYSICIAN, I USED BASICALLY OUR COMMUNITY PHARMACIST ON A VERY REGULAR BASIS TO PROVIDE EDUCATION AND HELP MONITOR MEDICATIONS.

Reporter: SO HE FELT COMFORTABLE COMING IN AND ASKING FOR HELP. AND THAT'S THE GOAL HERE AT THE CLINIC.

Kelly Erdos: I LOVE THE PROFESSION OF PHARMACY, AND I REALLY, REALLY LOVE OUR OLDER PATIENT POPULATION THAT WE HAVE HERE. I HAVE BEEN A PHARMACIST FOR ABOUT EIGHT YEARS, AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE WORK I DO, AND BEING ABLE TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON PATIENT'S LIVES.

Ted Simons: DOCTORS ALSO RECOMMEND MAKING A LIST OF ALL OF YOUR MEDICATIONS, AND DON'T FORGET VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS, AND CARRY THE LIST WITH YOU, SO YOU HAVE THEM AT ALL OF YOUR APPOINTMENTS.

Ted Simons: COMING UP TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" A NEW PROJECT LOOKS TO GET MORE FOLKS ENGAGED IN THE VOTING PROCESS. AND LONG-TERM WATER USAGE IS DOWN IN PHOENIX EVEN WITH POPULATION GROWTH. THAT'S TUESDAY RIGHT HERE ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." WANT TO WATCH TONIGHT'S SHOW AGAIN OR CHECK OUT PAST EPISODES, CHECK US OUT ON THE WEBSITE, AZPBS.ORG/HORIZON. THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

A study by the National Institutes of Health found nearly all senior citizens in this country take medication on a daily basis… many take more than one kind. The study also determined more than half are taking their medication incorrectly; everything from the wrong dosage to confusing one medication for another. The most common problem is the interaction of medications and that can have serious consequences. We look at how one hospital is helping seniors keep track of their medicine and avoid the danger.

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