Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Many attend presentation on meds


Stephanie Thompson

Emilia Sanchez and Rose Rudy complete crossword puzzles before listening to Petty's presentation.

Senior citizens attending the AARP luncheon focusing on medication were not disappointed with the speaker.

Last Thursday, Renee Petty, a registered pharmacist with Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, gave a presentation called "Let's Talk About Meds."

Petty covered numerous areas of concern, gave out tips, and answered attendees questions.

According to Petty, the average 45-year-old person takes four medications every day, while the average 65-year-old takes an average of nine medications every day. She said these medications can range from a multivitamin to heart medication or insulin for diabetes.

The problem is some of the medications seniors have to take every day are very expensive so seniors decide not to take their medicine.

"Fifty percent of older adults skip meds because they can't afford them," Petty said. "We all know that skipping our meds can land us in the hospital."

Yet, many feel they have no choice; and many seniors have to decide which is more important -- eating or taking their meds.

Petty gave seniors a few tips on how to keep their medication costs down. First, always ask the doctor if there is a generic brand. This will help cut costs, but not enough. Second, check into the Sweetwater County Community Health Center's 340B program, which is based on a sliding scale. She said before going to the health center seniors must know the center will require the patient to go with a certain pharmacy and will have to visit with the center's doctor.

For seniors who are on expensive medications to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes or asthma, they may want to look into this program.

She said a lot of seniors may also have to go to different pharmacies to get a medication cheaper. However, she cautioned seniors about this. She said if they are going to multiple pharmacies, they still need to provide each pharmacy with a complete list of their current medications. A lot of times a pharmacist will catch a medication that may cause problems with another medication a senior is already on. She told the seniors they must also make sure the pharmacy and their doctor know what supplements they are on as these can also have interact with other medications.

Petty said the seniors should not be afraid to ask the doctor why they are prescribing a certain medication over another. She told them not to be afraid to ask questions. Those who tend to forget what they want to ask, should make a list of questions and concerns prior to visiting with the doctor.

According to Petty, 1.5 million people suffer from preventable illnesses, injuries or deaths each year because of mistakes in prescribing, dispensing or taking medications.

"Be your own advocate," she said.

When getting a refill, make sure it looks exactly like the last medication. If is doesn't look the same, ask the pharmacist why. Just don't take it.

As for emergencies, Petty encouraged seniors to write out a complete list of medications and supplements they are taking and post in on their fridge.

She said if they have to go to the emergency room or an ambulance is called, it is much easier to have a list of medications handy. She said a senior may not be in a condition to talk. She said there are 10,000 drug substances approved by the FDA.

"The difference between a medication and poison is the amount," she said.


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