Town Crier

(Story edited to note change of location of meeting)

TEWKSBURY — Seniors who take medications need a plan to maximize the benefits and minimize the possibility of errors. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement says this comes down to the “five rights” — the right pa­tient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route, and the right time.

At the April 18, 2023 Tewks­bury Council on Aging meet­ing, Dr. Katlynn Bugda Gwilt will explain why effective medication management is crucial for seniors to maintain good health and avoid potentially life-threatening complications. While the Council on Aging meets at the Tewks­bury Senior Center at 175 Chandler St., this event is from 2 - 2:45 p.m. at the Library Main Meeting Room.

“Seniors can keep themselves safe by understanding their medications and health conditions, sticking to prescribed dose schedules, storing medications properly, being aware of potential interactions and side effects, telling your providers about any over-the-counter meds or supplements that you are taking and not sharing medications with family members,” said Bugda Gwilt. “It’s also really important to communicate with your health team. They’ll work with you to make your medication regimen easier to manage.”

Bugda Gwilt has a PhD in Pharmacology from North­eastern University and is well aware of the dangers when a patient isn’t fully informed of potential harm­ful interactions among me­dications. She’s also aware of how a seemingly minor side effect can have serious repercussions for a senior. 

“For example, as people age, they undergo physiological changes that affect the way their bodies pro­cess and clear drugs,” she said. “Alterations in kidney and liver function can slow the metabolism and clearance of drugs from the bo­dy, and might increase side effects. Your physicians are aware of this, but it’s up to the entire care team to manage these risks in their patients — especially seniors with multiple health conditions. The advent of online charting is supposed to ease this burden on pro­viders, but there remains a risk for something to fall through the cracks, causing a potentially hazardous effect. This is why patients are encouraged to utilize the medication therapy man­agement services offered by Medicare, to prevent these adverse events from occurring.”

In this session, Bugda Gwilt will explain how to work with your healthcare providers and pharmacist to develop a comprehensive medication management plan. Attendees will learn:

• How to understand and document your medicines’ purpose, dosage, prescri­ber and any foods or supplements to avoid.

• How to monitor side effects when starting a new prescription regimen, and ways to document these concerns to address with your provider.

• How to communicate effectively with your health­care team, from your primary provider to the pharmacy to having a plan to let hospitals know exactly what meds you’re using.

“Building a medication management plan can em­power seniors to take a more active role in managing their own health,” said Budga Gwilt. “While medical records access has improved, you never know when you’ll need to see a new, unfamiliar doctor. There are strategies to make sure you can inform them of your meds and avoid potential problems.”

All attendees will receive a worksheet to get started on a personalized medication management plan and tips for accessing help from Medicare Part D.

“Medicare plans often have medication management planning services, but seniors often don’t know about them,” said Bugda Gwilt. “You earned these benefits, so I’ll explain how to use them effectively.”

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