People over the age of 85 are significantly more likely to suffer social exclusion than those in the 65 to 85-year-old bracket, according to new research.
We know that a loss of social contact can damage physical and mental health, and furthermore, older people are more likely to need care from external providers.
Let’s look at some challenges:
- This demographic takes a number of medications.
Are they reviewed often as say, weight changes occur, or blood tests show loss of renal function?
- In weather patterns as we have encountered, do we check on their hydration levels.
Do we show that older person how to do the pinch test to check that elementary aspect of their health – one that is often overlooked by that person?
- Do we care for the carer – the spouse or partner who ignores their own health because they are devoted to looking after the other.
- Do we check for potential interactions as the specialist visit overlooks previous issues with particular medications and it is re-introduced eg anticholinergics?
- If they are regular attendees at the pharmacy, and suddenly there’s a time gap – do we enquire, or do we ignore?
- Do we throw generics at them, believing that we are saving them money, when in fact, we are adding to medication confusion.
Remember, generics are a patient choice – not a pharmacist’s right to substitute.
- Do we discuss overall nutrition?
Are we seeing a loss of weight or loss of mobility?
If so, do we enquire or ignore?
Governments have a responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens are able to participate fully in social life within, and beyond their home neighbourhoods.
Even if the moral arguments not deemed sufficiently powerful, as life expectancy increases and the age profile of western nations pushes upwards, the needs if future cohorts of the oldest of will become impossible to ignore.
Can you play your role in this demographic?