Q: Who is considered a “caregiver”?
A caregiver is someone who provides ongoing assistance to someone who, for example, has a chronic illness or a disabling condition.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 25% of U.S. adults reported providing care or assistance to a person with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days.
Amazingly, in 2009 it was estimated that in the United States, the value of unpaid caregiver assistance was worth $450 million per year.
Q: How can a pharmacist serve as my ally as a caregiver?
Caregivers can rely on pharmacists to guide them through complex medication regimens, over-the-counter medications, insurance questions and much more. Pharmacists can answer your questions and provide support on topics such as drug interactions, administration guidance, side effect management and when to call the physician.
Q: How can I monitor medication costs for my loved ones?
Talk to their pharmacist and physician about available generic medications. A generic medication is developed to be the same as an approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength and administration. Generic medications cost less than brand medications and work the same.
Pharmacists can also review a patient’s medication therapy and identify cost-savings opportunities, duplicate medications or medications that have been discontinued by the prescriber.
Additionally, many manufacturers offer financial support in the form of copay assistance or other patient assistance programs. At AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, our Patient Financial Services team can help eligible patients and caregivers learn financial assistance options.
Q: How can I help with loved ones’ medications?
First, it is important to use the same pharmacy whenever possible. This will ensure that the pharmacist can best support the patient by monitoring adherence and medication safety, such as reviewing for potential drug interactions.
If it is not possible to use the same pharmacy, provide the pharmacist with a list of the patient’s medications (including prescription and over-the-counter) and their medical conditions.
If the patient fills medication at a local Walgreens pharmacy, you should inform the AllianceRx Walgreens Prime pharmacist who may be able to electronically review those records to make sure those medications can safely be taken with the medications they receive from AllianceRx Walgreens Prime.
Pharmacists can also help you with medication administration instructions, like which medications are best taken with food, what time of day is best to take them and how to best administer other types of medications (such as inhalers or injections).
Q: How can I keep my loved ones’ medications organized?
Although this can sometimes feel like a daunting responsibility, there are great tools and resources that you can use to stay organized. The pharmacist can walk you through the best option for you.
Some simple tips include:
- Using reminder aids such as timers or cell phone alarms
- Using a calendar to record when medication is taken and when the next dose is due
- Coordinate the time you give the medication with daily habits (e.g. placing medication reminder note next to a toothbrush or coffeemaker)
There are also cell phone applications available to help manage your loved ones’ medication list and regimen.
If you are traveling or away, you can provide these tools to the new caregiver who is filling in.
Q: For caregivers who also take medications — what advice do you have to manage both their own medications and their loved ones’ medications?
Although being a caregiver can be very fulfilling, it can have a big impact on your own quality of life. According to the CDC, being a caregiver is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, worse self-reported physical health and a compromised immune system.
It can feel challenging to manage your own medications when you are a caregiver, and it’s important that you don’t ignore your own health.
At AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, you can create a family account so that you can manage your loved ones’ medications, as well as your own, all in the same place. This will help take some of the stress away from managing everyone’s health.
Q: How can I establish authorized communication?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was created to protect patient health information from being disclosed without their consent or knowledge.
It is important for caregivers to understand that patient consent is required for the sharing of healthcare information. For example, a pharmacy cannot share a patient’s prescription information to a caregiver unless the patient has approved it.
There are other scenarios where a caregiver can obtain access to a patient’s medical information, such as through health care advance directives, specifically health care powers of attorney.
"I've always loved science and interacting with people, so I went to school and became a pharmacist. It's amazing to have the opportunity to use my knowledge and background to help people on a daily basis."