Adults 65 years of age and older may be your most unique customers. These patients play a significant role in the success of pharmacies – retail, specialty and long-term care. According to the Administration for Community Living’s report on health and healthcare, seniors are likely to have multiple chronic conditions. As a result, they are prone to experience transitions of care; consequently, they generally incur more out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.1 Adults are living longer than ever and are prescribed more drugs than ever. Not only do patients in this age group need your help now, but they will also require your assistance in the future.
Their Changing Needs
A majority of seniors have distinct needs. For example, most don’t sleep as well as they used to. “Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. As you get older, however, sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans than do younger adults.”2
Additionally, many seniors seek remedies for aches and pains they didn’t experience when they were younger. Dietary supplements are aggressively marketed to this demographic as well. Vitamins and minerals should come from the food one ingests. If an individual’s diet doesn’t provide the necessary vitamins and minerals, adjustments to diet might be the best alternative. However, supplements may be needed in conjunction with diet in some instances. In those cases, pharmacists must ensure supplements recommended to seniors do not interact with medications they are currently taking or will be taking in the future.
Increased Chronic Conditions
As our bodies age, not only are we likely to experience new aches and pains, but we are also more likely to experience new ailments. Per the Administration for Community Living:
Pharmacists are well positioned to assist patients with chronic conditions. The American Pharmacists Association’s Medication Therapy Management Digest states, “The most common disease states are those largely managed by the use of medications, indicating a growing recognition of the role of pharmacists in contributing to the care of patients…”4
A Variety of Care
Any population subset that experiences more significant ailments will need more care from different healthcare professionals as a consequence.
More hospital stays and doctor visits result in more trips to pharmacies. Readmission rates are high often due to poor care transitions. Pharmacists play a major role in ensuring favorable patient outcomes by working with other healthcare professionals to manage patients’ transition of care.
This is also where medication therapy management comes into play. Pharmacists can perform comprehensive medication reviews, provide medication-related action plans and encourage medication compliance and adherence.
Health conditions that require therapeutic management by a team of healthcare professionals can become expensive, fast. Seniors spend more on healthcare than any other age group.
Compared to other healthcare professionals, pharmacists are more accessible and can help drive down healthcare costs by engaging and educating patients and promptly providing meaningful information to other clinicians involved in managing patient outcomes.
Statistically, most seniors have plenty of life to live after their 65th birthday. “In 2014, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 19.3 years (20.5 years for females and 18 years for males).”8 According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are taking more prescriptions than ever. From 1988 to 1994, 73.6% of those 65 years and over took at least one prescription drug in any 30-day period; from 2009-2012, that increased to 89.8%. From 1988-1994, 35.3% of seniors took three or more prescription drugs in any 30-day period; from 2009-2012, that increased to 64.8%. From 1988 – 1994, 13.8% of seniors took five or more prescription drugs in any 30-day time frame; from 2009-2012, that increased to 39.1%.9 Those 65 and over are consistently more capable of taking care of themselves. However, they still require assistance from healthcare providers.
1,3,5,7 “Administration on Aging Profile of Older Americans: 2015 Health and Health Care.” Administration for Community Living. May 23, 2016. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.aoa.acl.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2015/14.aspx
2 Olson, Eric, M.D. “How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?” April 6, 2016. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
4 Medication Therapy Management Digest. American Pharmacists Association. March 2013. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. https://www.pharmacist.com/sites/default/files/files/MTMDigest_2013.pdf
6 Hume, Anne, Pharm.D., et al. “Improving Care Transitions: Current Practice and Future Opportunities for Pharmacies.” American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. https://www.accp.com/docs/positions/whitePapers/PubProfReltns2010Paper_Final.pdf
8 Administration on Aging Profile of Older Americans: 2015 The Older Population. Administration for Community Living. May 23, 2016. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.aoa.acl.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2015/3.aspx
9 “Prescription drug use in the past 30 days, by sex, race and Hispanic origin, and age: United States, selected years 1988 – 1994 through 2009 – 2012” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015 . Web. 28 Aug. 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2015/079.pdf