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What your Pharmacist Wants you to Know

 

October is American Pharmacists Month. It’s a month devoted to promoting the profession of pharmacy. It’s a month when the mantra “Know Your Pharmacist…Know Your Medicine” rings loud and strong! So I asked my friend and geriatric pharmacist Dr. Sheryl Havermann to let us know what pharmacists want their patients to know.

 

I've put together my list of the 5 things that your pharmacist wants you to know. This list applies to you as a patient, and also to you as a caregiver, whether that role is the caregiver of a child or an elderly adult.

Know Your Meds!

  • Keep a list of medications for all members of your family. It’s great to have an awesome Excel spreadsheet with all necessary data, but a simple list saved in your phone is equally as good. People seldom leave home without their smartphone anymore, so a list saved within the phone is both practical and available in the event of an emergency, or a medical appointment that you didn't have time to prepare for. Ultimately, it may become more useful than the beautiful spreadsheet in your home office!
  • This list should include, at a minimum, the name of the medication, the strength (dosage), and how often it is taken.

Know the Indication for every medication taken.

Many medications serve multiple purposes. A drug that is used to lower blood pressure may also be used for its renal protective effects in a patient with diabetes. If your physician hasn't told you why you’re prescribed the medicine, don’t be afraid to ask. Nobody wants their medical team to assume the indication!

Know the Goal of Therapy

By becoming aware of treatment goals, you become an active participant in the health care of yourself or those you’re caring for. Once the goals are known and understood, it will be much easier to determine when the medications should be permanently stopped, or changed, and even if they are effective.

Challenge yourself to identify at least 3 side effects of the medication to look out for.

Every medication that is consumed has some sort of side effect. It’s important to know what some of the side effects are, so that your healthcare team, which includes you, can decide if the benefits are greater than the potential risks. Simply knowing what to be watching for, and speaking up when you experience a side effect will allow conversations about how to address/minimize them happen.

Talk to your Pharmacist!

Utilize your pharmacist for the health care expert that they are. Discuss any concerns that you have regarding your medicine or your condition. Topics such as medication costs, side effects, and even pill size are frequently discussed. The pharmacist is a great resource for practical tips on how to take difficult medications or potential cost savings medication alternatives and/or programs that can assist with medication costs.

 

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   Dr. Sheryl Havermann, PharmD, RP, CGP is a certified geriatric pharmacist. She currently serves as Vice President of Pharmacy Services for Midwest Geriatrics, Inc., a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to providing high quality healthcare services to seniors in the Omaha, NE area.

 
Sheryl has spent her professional career working in geriatric pharmacy, having been exposed to the practice setting while a pharmacy student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She is passionate about the long term care pharmacy industry, and advocating for individuals whose voices tend to get lost in care planning. She is the current long term care chair for the Nebraska Pharmacists Association.
 
Sheryl is married and a mother to three teenage girls. All 3 girls have had critical medical issues, including premature birth, childhood cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Each illness required intense caregiving and advocacy on her part. Sheryl writes with a knowledge gained from her professional training, but also her heart as a mother who has been, and continues to be, a caregiver.

 

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