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Pharmacists are key to caring for older adults with dementia
Roger Selvage 445

Pharmacists are key to caring for older adults with dementia

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Today's Perspective

Kristin Wiisanen, PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP

Kristin Wiisanen, PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP Pharmacy Today editor in chief

Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia, with as many as 6.7 million Americans living with the disease in 2023. Nearly 15.7 million additional U.S. adults provide care for a family member with dementia. Pharmacists play an essential role in assisting these patients and their caregivers. This is especially true for community pharmacists, considering that approximately 70% of adults with dementia live outside of a residential facility.

This month’s Pharmacy Today cover story provides essential information for pharmacists caring for patients with Alzheimer disease or dementia. While some steps seem intuitive to pharmacists — for example, staying on the lookout for medications that worsen dementia such as anticholinergics or benzodiazepines — others require pharmacists to take a more holistic approach. According to Kirby Lee, PharmD and Professor Emeritus in clinical pharmacy at UCSF School of Pharmacy, who developed a multidisciplinary Care Ecosystem model for dementia care, pharmacists do not focus on memory drugs alone in the care of dementia patients. “We focus on the whole patient and whatever medical conditions they are dealing with.” This type of approach allows for optimal care of the patient and considers their caregivers’ needs as well. UCSF’s Care Ecosystem model was shown in a recent study to decrease the use of high-risk or inappropriate medications in patients with dementia. Check out the cover story to learn more.

You’ll find more critical news in this issue of Today, including the latest on FDA’s actions on phenylephrine, potential changes on the horizon for nonprescription CBD products, and an update on FDA’s recent approval of the first oral drug for postpartum depression. You’ll also find new information on medication changes in updated coronary disease guidelines and stay current with your CPE credit with this month’s article on cannabis for pharmacists.

While nearly 150 drugs are currently in clinical trials for Alzheimer disease, with recent novel approvals of disease-modifying agents that target aggregated forms of amyloid, we have a long way to go in developing effective treatments. In the meantime, pharmacists can make an impact by identifying drugs that may worsen dementia, encouraging deprescribing, and developing a dementia-friendly care environment. Educate your pharmacists and technicians to recognize signs of dementia, learn strategies for communicating with people with dementia, and become familiar with resources for patients and caregivers.

Have a great Today!

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