How Pharmacy Technicians Can Help Seniors Understand Their Medications

HealthcareSeptember 30, 2022

One of the jobs that come with working as a pharmacy technician is explaining medication prescriptions to patients, especially if you work in retail settings like a chain or local pharmacy. When you work somewhere like a retail pharmacy, you interact with the public quite a bit, and many of your customers will be senior citizens. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all trick to explaining prescriptions because every person is different. However, over time you may develop a relationship with regular customers and become a trusted source of information for them when they have questions about their medications. Start by figuring out if your patient has a language barrier, vision or hearing issue, specific religious beliefs, or something else that might tailor your counseling. And then keep these other guidelines in mind as you help your senior patients.

Does your patient have a memory issue? Even if they don’t, many patients benefit from using a special pill box to help them sort their daily medications, especially if they’re taking several. It could be a low-tech labeled pill box or a high-tech container that beeps to remind the patient it’s time to take their pills. Help them or their caregiver choose the right kind of box if they don’t already have one. 

Do they understand what each medication is prescribed for? It’s helpful if they can tell you in one or two words what each one is for. 

Which can be taken together? If a patient is taking many medications per day, it’s useful to figure out if they can take certain pills together to reduce the number of times they have to remember to take pills. Twice or three times a day is much easier than six or seven. Help your patient understand the best time of day, such as mealtime or bedtime. 

Can they explain what to do if they miss a dose? Go over with them what to do if they miss a dose. Have them explain it back to you. 

What if they have trouble getting tablets down? Some patients have trouble swallowing, and if they do, let them know if the prescription is available in another form, such as liquid. 

What if they can’t read the print or open the container? Is it possible to enlarge the print on the prescription label? Someone with arthritic hands may have difficulty opening a small child-safety cap. Take time to troubleshoot these issues with them for best solutions. 

If they don’t know what to do, will they call you? Seniors may not want to bother their pharmacy tech with questions, but it’s important for them to know they’re not bothering you. It’s better to call than to guess how to take a medication.  

It may be that you partner with their doctor and a family caregiver to help them manage their medications. But even if a family caregiver is involved, seniors appreciate being included in the conversation. 

Are you interested in a career as a pharmacy technician? Fortis offers a pharmacy training program at campuses in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Learn more by visiting our pharmacy programs pages or calling today!