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Pharmacy Benefits, Health Checks at Era Living

Abby Winter, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Abby Winter, a pharmacist and teaching professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, joins Suzanne to talk about advantages that residents of Era Living retirement communities receive thanks to a partnership with the university.

Abby says, “At Era Living, we will provide lectures about various topics, often ideas suggested by residents. Right now we’re doing a campaign of health promotion days. So we’ve had a diabetes day, a brain health day, a heart health day, and provide things like blood sugar checks, blood pressure checks, osteoporosis screenings, and diabetes screenings. We pair that with a lecture as well, since people learn in different ways.”

What happens at one of these events? Abby says, “I’ll use Bone Health Day as an example. So for a few hours in the morning, we’ll have an informational booth up with a poster, some handouts and flyers to take with you. On Bone Health Day, we provided bone density screenings, so folks could come in and actually get a DEXA scan, which kind of helps them know if they need to talk to their doctor about their potential for osteoporosis. Folks can bring us their medication list, or ask simple questions about their medications. Depending on the community, we’ll also offer staff education.

“We also provide one-on-one consultations with the residents at Era Living. Just have an expert go through your medications to make sure everything gets along, or make sure that they’re not having some side effect that they don’t realize is a medication side effect. A lot of times we think of different symptoms, they might just be getting older, but that’s not always the case. Maybe it’s a medication causing that side effect. And pharmacists are really well-suited to find those possible interactions or side effects. And as we get older, medications work differently in our bodies. So sometimes something that worked well for you 10, 20 years ago that you’ve been completely fine on doesn’t work so well anymore. Or now it causes you a side effect. So being kind of an expert in geriatrics helps me to better find those things.

“As folks get older, one of the biggest things that pharmacists do is de-prescribe: try to find medicines that aren’t warranted anymore. Additionally, there’s a lot of lifestyle things that help medications work better, or maybe replace the need for some medications. I empower residents with knowledge so that they feel more comfortable talking to their providers about it.

“A new service has developed. We’re reviewing older adults’ medications in their homes for expired products, or unused products, and helping them know how and where to dispose of them safely. Just to make sure that you don’t take the wrong drug accidentally, or maybe you have something left over, or your dose changed and you kept the old dose with you, you don’t want to take the wrong one. And to keep, in case grandkids or pets are around, keep them safe too. There’s a lot of different opportunities for engagement and interaction with the pharmacist as a resident at Era Living.”

Abby talks about how the program got started. “The Plein Center is part of the Department of Pharmacy at the school. Where I serve as the assistant director for outreach, we work on research, education and outreach to optimize older adults’ medication use in many ways by working directly with older adults, working with their caregivers, working with health care providers, and also kind of being at the forefront, working in research. Everything provided through our partnership is completely free to the residents at Era Living.”

Hear more podcasts about Era Living at Answers for Elders, including conversations with other residents, at Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/era-living/

Learn more about:
Abby Winter: https://sop.washington.edu/people/abby-winter/
University of Washington School of Pharmacy: https://sop.washington.edu/
Plein Center for Geriatrics: https://sop.washington.edu/plein-center-in-geriatrics/
Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/welcome-to-answers-for-elders/.
Era Living’s website: https://www.eraliving.com/

Answers for Elders is part of the SeniorResource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/
Check out our affiliate podcast Alzheimer’s Speaks: https://alzheimersspeaks.com/