Understanding the pharmacy needs of a loved one with dementia
Support required for medicine handling to preventaccidental overdose
Declining memory and cognitive functioning associated with dementia affect an estimated one in five people between the ages of 75 and 84, and some 50 million people worldwide. A pharmacist shares some practical considerations for caregivers and loved ones when it comes to the medicine and pharmacy needs of someone with dementia.
“The symptoms of dementia tend to progress over time, withearly signs such as difficulties with memory or finding the right words, sudden mood changes, restlessness, and the person repeating themselves, among others,” says pharmacist Ria Westerman of Medipost Pharmacy, South Africa’s largest national courier pharmacy.
“As their memory and cognitive abilities deteriorate, the person sadly requires assistance with their medicine. Unfortunately, there is no medicine available at present that can prevent, cure, or stop dementia from advancing.
“Treatment aims to help stabilise the patient so they can enjoy the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. The stabilising effects of treatment may also help the person’s social functioning, which can assist in reducing pressure on their support network.”
According to Westerman, the three medications most commonly used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the leading cause of dementia, are choline-esterase inhibitors. “There are other medicines that may enhance memory, mood stabilizers, tranquillizers, and others that may be used in combination with choline-esterase inhibitors according to the symptoms and wellbeing of the patient. These medicines are only available with a valid prescription from a physician.
“When people with dementia are prescribed medication, they require support to ensure the correct dosage and proper handling of their medicine and families should decide who takes responsibilityfor handling the prescriptions on their behalf and facilitate their medicine and other pharmacy needs,” Westerman says.
“The patient’s carer will need toadministertheir medicine in the correct doses, as prescribed by their treating doctor. This becomes necessary for safety becausethe person may forget to take their medicine or may accidentallyoverdosebymistakenly taking their medicine multiple times in a day. To prevent accidents, medicine should always be kept securely.”
For a person living with dementia, a deviation from their usual routine, such as a trip to the pharmacy, can be physically and emotionally challenging. In the case of courier pharmacy services, such as Medipost Pharmacy which dispenses and delivers chronic medicine and self-medication products anywhere in South Africa, the prescriptions would be discussed telephonically with the patient’s next-of-kin or other designated person, who would also receive the patient’s pre-packaged medicine parcel on their behalf, Westerman explains.
People registered with Medipost have access to telephonic clinical advice from pharmacists and pharmacist’s assistants in their preferred official South African language. This service is available from Monday to Friday, 08h00 to 17h00, and Saturdays between 08h00 and 12h00 for advice regarding products, dosage, possible side effects or interactions and other concerns relating to medication dispensed by Medipost Pharmacy.
“Inthe more advanced stages of dementia, incontinenceis relatively common and there are products that can help cope with it and avoidunnecessary discomfort,” Westerman says.
Incontinence pants or briefs, also known as adult diapers, and soothing skin lotions are among the many self-medication and self-care productsavailable for discrete home delivery through the convenient chat function on shop.medipost.co.za, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org on weekdays. There is no charge for delivery when combined with chronic medicine orders, or for orders over R350.
“We understand the wide and varied pharmacy needs involved in caring for a person with dementia, and we strive to offer a caring, personalised and professional service to support individuals and their families.”
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Pharmacy
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016