Study confirms need for more support for those with dementia who are taking medication.

Research from Aston University, Hull University and the University of East Anglia, and funded by Pharmacy Research UK has confirmed what many dementia carers have probably already spotted – it gets much harder to manage medication as dementia progresses.

The year-long research, which involved interviews with family carers, people with dementia, nurses, GPs and community pharmacists, found forgetfulness and confusion caused by dementia could lead to struggles with managing medication, and cause side-effects and illness.

It also has an effect on family carers, as the person with dementia will become increasingly reliant on them managing their medication, causing a real burden of responsibility.

‘Our study found incorrect dosing, forgetting to give the medication and taking medicines which should have been stopped,’ said lead researcher Dr Ian Maidment, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at Aston University.

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The study was also designed to highlight the role that community pharmacists can play in supporting those with dementia.

Dr Andrea Hilton from Hull University said:

‘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. This research highlights that community pharmacists should be working more with GP practices and have full access to patients’ medical records. Furthermore, home visits should be conducted for medication reviews.’

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

‘Seven in 10 people with dementia are also living with other health conditions and managing multiple medications which can be a tremendous challenge. Finding new and innovative ways to support people with dementia and their carers to safely and correctly age their medication is a focus for future research.”

Dr Maidment added:

‘People with dementia are amongst the most vulnerable members of society and need more support with medication management. We need to develop new ways of supporting people with dementia manage their management and then test how well these new ways work.’

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Source: aston.ac.uk