Older Britons struggle with managing long lists of medication overload in coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, concerns that the lockdown might isolate those with vulnerable conditions have grown. New research thus, has built a helpful roadmap to aid these problems in millions of such people.
People over the age of 70 including those with pre-existing medical conditions are asked to protect themselves. Self-isolation as a means of protection for such people leads to concerns of ‘polypharmacy’
As such people begin to avoid seeking help from pharmacies and GP’s for the management of many medications, they fall victim to polypharmacy. A term used to describe the constant use of multiple medications.
12 million people 65 and over age 65 take five or several different medicines daily, to treat health conditions that run long-term. One or more conditions happening simultaneously are called comorbidities. Before the pandemic of coronavirus, 2,400 people die every year after taking the wrong medicines.
The new research from Aston University, in collaboration with the universities of Oxford, Sheffield, Bradford, and Wollongong and the NHS, is published in the journal BMC Geriatrics. The research is a big help for clinicians like pharmacists and GPs to provide a more sectioned way of managing medicines for patients.
MEMORABLE (Medication Management in Older people: Realist Approaches Based on Literature and Evaluation) study team, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and led by Dr. Ian Maidment, say a new solution to real-life experience is required to solve the unrivaled difficulty many carers and older people face.
Sue Boex, 73, a retired dental secretary enlisted to participate in the study. She was caring for her mother at the time, Edna who in February 2019 passed away at age 96. Near the end of her life, Edna suffered from heart and digestive problems on top of dementia, this required her to take six separate medicines.
Edna did not know what or why she took medicines and relied on her daughter to manage them for her, Sue says.
Sue says it was stressful for her as nobody is prepared or trained to be a carer, so she had to learn it all along the way. Edna would get angry and confused with different prescribed medications that came from different manufacturers because she told them apart with color and shape. Sue says her mother once became dangerously dehydrated after not drinking a thickening agent with her drinks to help with a problem of swallowing.
Nick, 72, Sue’s husband takes 12 separate tablets to treat his different long-term conditions. She says they were in luck to have his medication delivered through the pandemic, thanks to the local GP and pharmacist. She worries about how others manage a medication overload in coronavirus lockdowns.
In the MEMORABLE study, the researcher studied academic literature while carrying out in-depth interviews with 50 older people and their health care practitioners. This included their families too.
They found five key problems faced by them. Among these were not knowing the purpose of each medicine clearly as it was not explained. Vague memory after dealing with many different health and care providers without having family carers were not involved in making decisions was also a problem
Memorable study in response proposed a framework of five stages to help clinicians help family carers and older people to safely manage medication. It places a larger emphasis on reviewing medication regularly involving carers and patients. Previously this was never done.
Jo Rycroft-Malone, NIHR Programme Director and Chair of the Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, says this research provides important insight into issues faced by older people when it comes to managing and taking their medicines.
This will also prove helpful in managing a medication overload in coronavirus lockdowns for people who are currently struggling.