Avoiding Medication Misuse

"Brown Bag" event clears up confusion

NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- As we age, the likelihood of relying on medication increases. The problem for many seniors is that they are making what's become all-too-common mistakes when taking their meds.

The National Institutes of Health says 90 percent of seniors take at least one prescription and more than half take their medications incorrectly. A local college just launched a program to help hundreds of area seniors avoid potentially dangerous medication mistakes.

"I don't know if I'm able to take it with those medicines that I'm on," said a woman to a Wilkes University Pharmacy Student while at Rose Tucker Active Adult Center. Many seniors have that confusion when it comes to their assortment of prescription medications, over-the-counter meds and supplements. "Some of the older people could be mixing up things that they shouldn't be taking," said 84-year-old Marion Samserski of Nanticoke. Wilkes University Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice Nicole Pezzino added, "Sometimes they'll take medicines to treat a side effect or they'll take a medicine that's maybe a little bit more pricey or maybe they'll take two medicines, I was just talking to a gentleman, at the same time that make neither of them work."

Wilkes University's Nesbitt School of Pharmacy decided to clear up the confusion. It targeted 17 senior centers throughout Luzerne and Wyoming Counties for its inaugural Brown Bag Medication Review. There's a method to the process. Second year Wilkes Pharmacy students screen seniors for their information while fourth year pharmacy students who will graduate in May make sure the process is done right. 

75-year-old Tom Zaykoski of Nanticoke is on about a dozen different medications. Wilkes Pharmacy Students provided him answers that are sometimes hard to come by. "They advise you to talk to your pharmacist but in the real world they're busy, you're busy. You forgot what you wanted," he said. 

Thanks to the Brown Bag Medication Review, these seniors may avoid a costly mistake. Wilkes Fourth Year Pharmacy Student Dan Hackford said, "We can sit down with these seniors and go through all their medications and make sure that they understand why they're taking these medications, when they should be taking them, if they should take them you know with or without food, if there's anything to look out for." Wilkes Pharmacy Second Year Student Sarah Metzinger said, "It's super overwhelming for some people which is why we have the little cards that we can fill out like each medication, its strength."

106 Wilkes Pharmacy Students and 21 pharmacists took part in the brown bag medication review. By interacting with the 381 seniors who participated, students got something out of it, too: valuable experience which they say will help them in their profession.
 


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