Philadelphia, PA – Starting this June, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will host ‘Ask the Pharmacist’ seminars throughout the region to raise older adults’ awareness about potential medication risks to help safeguard their health. The ‘Ask the Pharmacist’ seminars will be offered at area senior centers in southeastern Pennsylvania as part of IBC’s free Wellness Program Education Series, which covered nutrition and fall prevention in past sessions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year nearly 40 percent of people 60 and older take five or more medications, and about one-third experience a serious adverse effect.
“It’s more important than ever for people of all ages to be active participants in their own health care, but especially for seniors who are highly vulnerable to medication errors,” says Robert Smith, IBC’s vice president of Medicare Sales and Marketing. “Older adults may find they have questions about the medicines they are taking or some confusion about where to go with concerns on topics ranging from medication side effects, to what drugs are covered under their prescription plan, to how to enroll in Medicare Part D.”
Pharmacists can serve as a helpful, trusted resource in answering questions related to a patient’s overall health care. In addition, the patient’s doctor and the patient’s health plan, like IBC, often work together to ensure that medications are appropriate, effective, safe, and used correctly. The pharmacist, doctor, and health plan can identify, resolve, and prevent medication-related problems.
Smith adds, “When it comes to important health questions, getting answers is essential. The Wellness Program Series offered by IBC is just one more way to help people on their path to better health.”
Seniors living in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties may contact their local Senior Centers to learn if the ‘Ask the Pharmacist’ seminar presented by IBC will be held at a location near them.
Common Questions for Seniors to Ask the Pharmacist
Eric Estes, a pharmacist and the senior director of Pharmacy Services at Independence Blue Cross, shares some important questions all seniors should ask their pharmacist or doctor about their medications:
- How should I take this medication?
Ask your pharmacist whether you are taking all of your medications correctly, and if they are being stored correctly. For example, some medications need to be taken at the same time every day, or with food or liquids, while others may need to be taken on an empty stomach. Medications may also have storage instructions. Medications are often stored at room temperature in a cool, dark, dry area, while other mediations may have specific storage instructions, such as staying refrigerated, to maintain their effectiveness.
- Is there anything that I should avoid while taking my medication?
Ask your pharmacist about what foods, drinks, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements may interfere with your current medications. For example, alcohol or grapefruit juice can interact with many drugs, possibly increasing the risk of unwanted side effects.
- Is there a generic form of this medication?
Ask your pharmacist whether there may be a generic version of the drug you are taking. Generic versions of medications are just as safe and effective as brand drugs, but usually cost less. You may also inquire about a more cost-effective way to fill your prescriptions. Depending on your prescription plan, a 90-day supply may be cheaper than a 30-day supply. Your pharmacist may also know of other programs available to help you save money.
- Which Medicare Part D plan is right for me?
Having the right prescription coverage can give you a peace of mind and save you money. It is important to know what medications your plan covers. Every year, from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to review their current prescription coverage and enroll in a new plan. As open enrollment season begins, you may speak with your pharmacist, call your local health plan, or contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about your questions and guidance on how to choose the right plan.