People with dementia often struggle with managing their medication – exposing them to side effects, medication errors and an increased risk of non-adherence to drug treatment, research has found.

Community pharmacists could be utilised more to support patients and carers, researchers at Aston University, Hull University and UEA established, in a study funded by Pharmacy Research UK and published in the journal Health Expectations.

Patients are likely to be taking multiple medications and carers may struggle with their responsibilities.  

Lead researcher Dr Ian Maidment, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston University said: “Our study found incorrect dosing, forgetting to give the medication and taking medicines which should have been stopped.”

Professor Chris Fox, consultant old age psychiatrist from UEA’s Norwich Medical School commented: “There can be severe health impact for both the patient and carer – too often in my clinical practice I come across patients and families overburdened and unclear about their medication regimes. This can result in more visits to their GP and hospital and is a cause of avoidable NHS admissions.”

Dr Andrea Hilton from Hull University added: “There is a substantial role for community pharmacists and their teams to assist carers; many pharmacists have day-to-day contact both with carers and people with dementia. Community pharmacy is in a unique position to support and embrace patient-centred care and this is currently under-utilised."

Community pharmacists should be working more with GP practices, have full access to patients’ medical records and home visits should be conducted for medication reviews, it was suggested.

 

 

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