Each week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth. Click here download the newsletter as a .pdf file.
“Most older Americans take multiple medicines every day. But a new poll suggests they don’t get – or seek – enough help to make sure those medicines actually mix safely.”
“Most older Americans take multiple medicines every day. But a new poll suggests they don’t get – or seek – enough help to make sure those medicines actually mix safely.
“That lack of communication could be putting older adults at risk of health problems from interactions between their drugs, and between their prescription drugs and other substances such as over-the-counter medicines, supplements, food and alcohol.
“The new results, from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, show that only about one in three older Americans who take at least one prescription drug have talked to anyone about possible drug interactions in the past two years.
“Even among those taking six or more different medicines, only 44 percent had talked to someone about possible drug interactions.”
SOURCE: California Healthline – (Illustration created using Getty Images)
“Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic.
“For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79. Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders.
“Unlike the overuse of opioid painkillers, the polypharmacy problem has attracted little attention, even though its hazards are well documented. But some doctors are working to reverse the trend.”
“We have been working hard to help individuals with a disability and older Pennsylvanians to live where and how they choose, just as any of us would want,” Governor Wolf said. “This new website is a tremendous tool to help you or your loved one make the best and most informed decision about care and services.”
The website is a collaboration between the departments of Aging (PDA) and Human Services (DHS), and serves as an extension of PDA’s Aging and Disability Resource call center. With this online resource the commonwealth is adding to its continuing efforts to help Pennsylvanians locate and get the best use of services at the local level.
“Our capacity to link seniors and their families with community resources is critical to helping them live and age well at home,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “Today’s launch empowers older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers to proactively explore the service options that are available to them as they seek to remain independent and age in place.”
The site features 12 service and support categories, including Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, Housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation.
Users can find information about organizations, services, and programs within these categories. One major component to the site is its home care directory, which connects individuals to in-home services available in their county. More than 350 in-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory may offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services.
“We are committed to serving Pennsylvanians where they want to be – in their homes and communities,” said DHS Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “This website is a great resource to connect an individual to the services they need to provide a choice in where they live.”
Following the launch of Pennsylvania Link to Community Care, the departments of Aging and Human Services will continue to enhance the website using data and feedback from users, and expand the resources and information provided throughout the site. If you are a provider licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and would like to appear on the home care directory, you may submit your information by navigating to the footer of the site and clicking on “Apply.”
To learn more about the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, or to find information on resources available in your county, visit www.carelink.pa.gov.
“The makers of cancer drugs also make vials with too much medication for many patients. The excess drugs are tossed in the trash — another reason health care costs are so high.”
Gregory Matthews, who is partially blind because of glaucoma, uses eyedrops every day to preserve his remaining sight. (Matt Roth for ProPublica)
by Marshall Allen
“If you’ve ever put in an eyedrop, some of it has almost certainly spilled onto your eyelid or cheek.
“The good news is the mess doesn’t necessarily mean you missed. The bad news is that medicine you wiped off your face is wasted by design — and it’s well-known to the drug companies that make the drops.
“Eyedrops overflow our eyes because drug companies make the typical drop — from pricey glaucoma drugs to a cheap bottle of Visine — larger than a human eye can hold. Some are so large that if they were pills, every time you swallowed one, you’d toss another in the garbage.
“The waste frustrates glaucoma experts like Dr. Alan Robin, whose patients struggle to make pricey bottles of drops last. He has urged drug companies to move to smaller drops — to no avail.”
“The little red pill being pushed on the elderly | CNN investigation exposes inappropriate use of drug in nursing homes”
by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken; Data analysis by Sergio Hernandez, CNN Investigates
“The maker of a little red pill intended to treat a rare condition is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year as it aggressively targets frail and elderly nursing home residents for whom the drug may be unnecessary or even unsafe, a CNN investigation has found.
“And much of the money is coming straight from the federal government. The pill, called Nuedexta, is approved to treat a disorder marked by sudden and uncontrollable laughing or crying — known as pseudobulbar affect, or PBA. This condition afflicts less than 1% of all Americans, based on a calculation using the drugmaker’s own figures, and it is most commonly associated with people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
“Nothing seemed to help the patient — and hospice staff didn’t know why.
“They sent home more painkillers for weeks. But the elderly woman, who had severe dementia and incurable breast cancer, kept calling out in pain.
“The answer came when the woman’s daughter, who was taking care of her at home, showed up in the emergency room with a life-threatening overdose of morphine and oxycodone. It turned out she was high on her mother’s medications, stolen from the hospice-issued stash.
“Dr. Leslie Blackhall handled that case and two others at the University of Virginia’s palliative care clinic, and uncovered a wider problem: As more people die at home on hospice, some of the powerful, addictive drugs they are prescribed are ending up in the wrong hands.”
A Mom “is on a mission to spare others that unfathomable pain.”
by Megan Thielking
“RANGER, Ind. — Becky Savage always starts her talks to students and parents the same way. She shows them pictures of her teenage sons, Nick and Jack, who loved hockey, Taco Bell, and late-night hangouts.
“Then, she tells them what happened on June 14, 2015.
“Savage was picking up dirty clothes from 18-year-old Jack’s room that Sunday morning. He was sleeping in after a night of graduation parties with Nick and other friends. Jack didn’t respond as she picked up his laundry. She shook him, but he didn’t wake up. She knew to check his pulse — she’s a nurse. He didn’t have one. She started CPR on her son and shouted for help.
“She heard sirens wail down their street. She watched a firefighter try to resuscitate Jack. She screamed at him when she saw him give up.”
Many think that the opioid crisis is not their problem; read comments following articles in local media. The commenters think that overdoses are “druggie” problems, not theirs. The truth is that addiction crosses all demographics.
This recent People Magazine article features the pictures of some of the people who’ve died from opioid addiction – they are the faces of family members, neighbors, friends – people just like ones you probably know … right here in Berks County, in Lancaster County and in Lebanon County.
Quality Insights shares Practice Change Package | a resource for those who prescribe, dispense and monitor patients with chronic pain
Quality Insights’ Special Innovation Opioid Project Team, in collaboration with the West Virginia University (WVU) Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and the WV Geriatric Education Center, has developed a Practice Change Package entitled Opioid Misuse and Diversion: The Big Picture; A Guide for Practice Change, to serve as resource to those who prescribe, dispense and monitor patients with chronic pain.
This guideline is:
- designed to improve patient outcomes, such as pain reduction and improved function
- based on emerging evidence, including observational studies and randomized clinical trials
- voluntary- not a prescriptive standard
- designed to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy use when managing chronic pain