One of the realities we all have to deal with as we get older is the slowly increasing number of medications we may be prescribed or recommended. From a simple aspirin to some of the more drastic and complex medications for more serious issues, there are a dizzying variety of medications from hundreds of medical manufactures that have a multitude of applications. It can be overwhelming trying to manage all of these conflicting and interacting medications without the input of a professional.
With the exception of some common over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen, Benadryl, etc., many of our more serious medications are prescribed by a medical professional. Indeed, for elders with long-term or chronic conditions, these medications are prescribed very specifically by (hopefully) a consistent physician who is aware of the various interactions that can occur both by person and with combinations of different medications. However, this is not always the case.
Every patient is different, and every one of our clients here at Senior Steps is also different. Each has their own medical needs, medical issues, and personal reaction to medication. One of the limits of a primary care physician (PCP) is their very limited time for one-on-one assessment of each of their patients. In cases of newly prescribed medication, or a new medical issue that requires medication, a PCP does not have the same face-to-face time that a geriatric care manager would in assessing their patient and or client.
As geriatric care managers, we here at Senior Steps are well aware of the wide variety of medical issues that can occur in elder persons, as well as the medications and interactions that can be used to treat them. Some medications can cause discomfort for certain patients and not others, and this is where a geriatric care manager can really benefit elders and their families.
While some discomfort or issue with a medication or treatment may be normal and not a concern, it is important to differentiate between those issues that are minor and those can present a greater risk. A medication that causes frequent bathroom trips as a side effect may be a higher risk to one patient than another, especially if a patient has balance issues or problems navigating stairs up to their bathroom. These types of questions and issues are not normally addressed as medication is prescribed, pushed and challenged to limit visit times. PCPs and medical specialists in many cases aren’t able to treat the whole person and by circumstance end up treating a symptom instead. This can be hazardous for an individual whose cardiologist, neurologist and PCP are all prescribing and adjusting doses without a strong sense of what their colleagues are prescribing! As nurses, the Geriatric Care Managers at Senior Steps understand these challenges and are able to offer guidance and advocacy, building communication between all of the providers. We are able to advocate for our client’s best interest because we can see these issues before they happen and prevent them from occurring at all.
Part of our onboarding process here at Senior Steps includes a detailed medication plan with dosage, schedule and all the details related to each medication. Our clients are more comfortable and confident as they understand the purpose and relevance of their medication regimen. And they may be taking fewer pills once we speak with their health care providers!
At Senior Steps, our staff of geriatric care managers are well versed in the various medications for hundreds of different medical conditions that can occur in elderhood, as well the potential complications. Complications not just in a medical sense, but in a quality of life sense as well. A geriatric care manager benefits clients with health issues, since they act as the number one advocate for their clients and their overall wellbeing.