People with dementia need more medication support

People with dementia are struggling with managing their medication, exposing them to side-effects, medication errors and an increased risk of non-adherence to drug treatment. New findings from Pharmacy Research UK reveal that:

  • Patients often struggle to manage their drug regime
  • Community pharmacists could be utilised more to support patients and carers
  • Some carers find the responsibility of their role stressful.

Researchers at Aston University, Hull University and the University of East Anglia interviewed family carers, people with dementia, nurses, GPs and community pharmacists for the project.

They found that as dementia develops, a person struggles to manage their own medication and increasingly relies on support from family carers. This is often their partner, who may also be taking many medicines and finding the carer role stressful, thus increasing the risk of medication error. For some carers this was a real burden of responsibility.

Lead researcher Dr Ian Maidment, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston, said: “Our study found incorrect dosing, forgetting to give the medication and taking medicines which should have been stopped.”

Professor Chris Fox, consultant old age psychiatrist from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, added: “There can be a severe health impact for both the patient and carer. Too often patients and families are overburdened and unclear about their medication regimes. This can result in more visits to their GP and hospital and is a cause of avoidable NHS admissions.”

Dr Andrea Hilton from Hull University commented: “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.”


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