How to Synchronize your Refills and Bubble-Pack your Prescriptions

How to Synchronize your Refills and Bubble-Pack your Prescriptions

If you or a family member takes multiple prescribed medications, it can be a major task to safely manage proper dosages, dosing schedules, and refills. Retail pharmacies have developed services like medication reviews and reconciliation and bubble packaging to help individuals and families safely manage their prescriptions.

Jeff Cushman, a pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy in Neenah, knows these services can significantly increase patient safety, convenience, and cost-savings. Some pharmacies perform these services for free, and others charge a relatively small fee. “We can help people with complex medication schedules or those who simply have trouble remembering to take one or two pills,” he said. People to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about getting help with three things:

  1. Consolidate all of your prescriptions to one pharmacy. This is very important. Your pharmacist is a member of your health care team, and he or she must be aware of all drugs and supplements you are taking to be able to advise you about possible drug interactions or side effects. If you are using more than one pharmacy, no one pharmacist has a complete picture of your situation. As physicians, we partner with pharmacists and rely on them to contact us with concerns and suggestions about your prescriptions. If necessary, we work together to develop alternatives to address these concerns.
  2. Ask for a process called medication review and reconciliation, when your pharmacist will update and organize all of your medications. You bring in all your medicine bottles from all of your prescribers and your pharmacist will work with you and your doctors to set up the best dosing schedule for you. Your pharmacist will contact all of your doctors, determine if certain medicines are better taken during the day or at night, and set up your first fill so that all your refills are timed together, automatically, without your having to call each month. “This is a great convenience, because you won’t have different refill date for different prescriptions. You make just one trip to the pharmacy each month—or better yet, have them delivered to your house,” Cushman said.
  3. Request bubble packaging for anything from single prescriptions to complex medication combinations. Keep better track of whether or not you remembered to take your pills by simply checking whether or not the bubble pack for that dose is empty. Patients and their family members also save a lot of time and worry because they no longer have to count and sort pills into those pesky weekly pill sorters or make multiple trips to the pharmacy at different times of the month to pick up refills. (After medication reconciliation, all of your refills will occur on the same date so that your bubble packs can be prepared.) Even over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and supplements can be included, but you have to ask your prescriber to write a prescription for them. This gives your pharmacist permission to open the packages and generate the necessary labels for you.

Here is some more information about bubble packaging, when pills are packaged and labeled by individual dose. Depending on the pharmacy you use, there are different formats; however, they are all effective at keeping you safe, organized, and in compliance with your prescription’s dosage instructions.

Weekly packs, also known as 7-day cards, are when multiple pills are packaged together by the time of day they are taken. For instance, morning pills will be in one easy-to-open foil-backed bubble, and noon, evening, and bedtime doses are similarly prepared. The customer starts a new set of packaged meds each week.

Calendar cards include up to 31 days of doses of a particular medication or combination of medications. Patients may have multiple cards if they take multiple doses per day.

Depending on the equipment your pharmacy has, you may also see strip packaging, which is simply a different method of sorting and labeling your doses with your name, time of dose, and a listing of each medicine that is inside each single-dose packet.

Safe medication management is dependent on your pharmacist knowing about every medicine you take. When you consolidate all your prescriptions to one pharmacy, this opens the door to helpful services like bubble packaging and better communication with all of your prescribers. That’s an easy pill to swallow!

Dr. Schacht is family physician for ThedaCare Physicians-Appleton North and a member of the American Medical Association, Wisconsin Medical Society and American Academy of Physicians. She works hard to keep families healthy. Some of her interests outside of work include traveling, home improvement projects and gardening.

Every Walk I Take…

Every Walk I Take…

I am a grandmother of seven, and very thankful for “every walk I take.”    At the age of 35 I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease that was progressing rapidly. One day it put me right in bed for about two weeks with 2 nasty disc bulges.

My sports doctor suggested I walk 2 to 3 miles every day. Since we lived on a country road, my husband insisted on accompanying me as I was starting out on my new fitness program.  Very slow at first, but as time progressed, so did our speed and strength. We noticed our marital relationship began to be enriched as we spent that quality time together without distractions. We raised our daughters and hopefully have set a lifelong example as to the health benefits of daily exercise.

During the snowy and icy season, we have found various YouTube channels to be a wonderful help for motivation to complete our morning walks in the living room.

Now in our 60s we are looking forward to those warm spring days and getting back out on the road!

Lauri Van Osdol is a wife, mother, and Nana who splits her time between the north woods of the Upper Peninsula and Appleton, WI.

My Dad

My Dad

My dad was a wonderful human being. He was a great father, grandfather, husband, uncle, and friend to many people and organizations in this community.

As Dad grew older, he moved from home with my mother to a condo and then by himself to Touchmark (Senior Retirement Community) after my mother passed away. Dad loved his new home very much.  He started a couple card groups, served as the “Mayor” of the retirement community since he helped give tours and told people why it was a great place to live.

Dad lived there for ten years; however, it could have been longer. He was a very proud man and never wanted to use a walker or cane (since that was for old people – he was 89).  One evening before dining, he took a bad fall and never recovered.  He lived for five days; however, the fall unfortunately caused his death.  Don’t let pride get in your way – use your resources and assistive devices and embrace life!

Kathi Seifert is a local business leader, innovator, philanthropist, and advocate for community improvement.

Clear the Way

Clear the Way

Clutter can cause physical and mental anguish.

Clutter and poor organization can cause trips and falls. And contrary to what many people believe, falls and unorganized or overstuffed homes are not normal or expected parts of aging. When you stay in control of your “stuff,” you decrease stress and distraction in your life, experience more inner peace, and significantly reduce your chance of tripping or falling. Stay physically safe with these tips:

  • Keep cell phone in your pocket or a holder attached to your belt in case you fall or get stuck in a risky situation
  • Avoid the use of throw rugs and cords extended across walkways
  • Ensure pathways are clear of piles of paper, too much furniture, and laundry baskets
  • Wear proper fitting non-skid footwear
  • Invest in adequate lighting, especially to and from the bathroom at night
  • Wear your hearing aids if you need them – to prevent being easily started
  • Use proper equipment to help you move around safely (like a walker or cane)

Be a Clutter Buster

  • Invite a friend over to help you see non-essential things that can be thrown away or donated.
  • Reduce clutter by scheduling time to sort through junk mail and piles of miscellaneous
  • household things that easily accumulate.
  • Put things away as soon as you are done using them.
  • Avoid impulse purchases and ensure you have a plan for any items you bring home.
  • If you need to dig out of a big clutter problem, start small and take one room at a time. Do not overwhelm yourself with taking on your entire house all at once.
  • Clutter may not just be garbage or useless items. It may be the overcrowded walkway stuffed with extra furniture that’s hard to navigate.
  • Learning to have an eye for a hazardous situation can be acquired over time. If you think it is a hazard, then it probably is. Trust your intuition.

You are taking good care of yourself when you work to eliminate clutter. Not only do you decrease your risk of tripping and falling, research tells us that our mental health and energy improve when our living space is clean and well organized.

Candice Jagla is the wellness coordinator at Valley VNA Senior Care in Neenah, Wisconsin. She has a background in occupational therapy and acts as the liaison between Valley VNA residents and their individual therapy agencies, ensuring the completion of home exercises and educating staff on follow-through.

Best Kept Secret

Best Kept Secret

Have you heard of the Aging and Disability Resource Center and all they have to offer? No?  Know someone who can use assistance in their home?  Just turn 65 or will be soon and want to know more about Medicare?  Know someone that has a disability struggling to find the right resources?  Just want to know the best transportation options or handyman in town to help you out?   Well- guess what? The ADRC can help with all those scenarios and more!

ADRC’s are a no-cost, single point of contact for information and assistance.   They are a central source of information, assistance and access to community resources for older people and people with disabilities, as well as their families. Personalized assistance is available at the resource centers, over the telephone, or home visits.

The staff can help you sort through all of the options available and make informed decisions about a wide variety of topics, such as:

  • Maintaining your independence
  • Support services and resources in your community
  • Choices for long-term care and related services
  • Medicare benefits and other health-related benefits
  • How to cut through the “red tape” and receive assistance with Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other benefits
  • Evidence-Based health and wellness programs

ADRC’s provide unbiased information about the providers and services in your community, their availability, and costs. Their team of professionals will work with you to find the right fit of options for your individual situation and provide the information you need to make the best decisions.

Nancy Krueger is the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Aging and Disability Resource Center serving Calumet, Outagamie and Waupaca Counties.   She has held this position for 10 years in November.   She coordinates many Evidence-Based prevention programs including three fall prevention programs, Stepping On, Strong Bones and Tai Chi.    In addition, she is also a Master Trainer for Stepping On nationwide and Strong Bones statewide.  Nancy has a true passion for fall prevention!

Home Safety Tips

Home Safety Tips

Home safety is a topic that goes far beyond grab bars in the bathroom. I help seniors and their families discover new and helpful ways that enable loved ones to live safely and happily in their homes.

Some advice is so simple, it’s surprising. But if a person has been living in the same house for 50 years, new ideas can be very helpful “ah-ha” moments. Try these tips:

  1. Buy several nightlights and plug them in all along the route to the bathroom. A while ago, maybe one would suffice, but aging people need a better lit pathway.
  2. Keep the walker close to the edge of the bed at night.
  3. Did you know that some shower seats come with a notch to hold a handheld shower nozzle so you don’t have to reach up and wrestle with the unwieldy hose?
  4. Consider having your prescriptions packaged in single-dose bubble packs at the pharmacy.
  5. You can hire a homemaking companion just for the jobs that are getting difficult to manage independently. There are also area agencies that offer free home visits to assess a person’s home safety.
  6. Install a grab handle between the storm door and the exterior door to navigate the threshold.
  7. Consider a secure high-rise toilet seat so it’s easier to sit down and get up.
  8. Ensure both feet are securely planted on the ground prior to rising to exit a vehicle.

Julie Fries, RN is the In-Home Client Care Coordinator for Valley VNA Senior Care. Julie helps clients find the services they need; trains and supervises the caregivers; communicates with clients and families on an ongoing basis; and conducts Options & Solutions visits, foot care clinics, blood pressure clinics, and community health chats.