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Families called to assist elderly in taking medication

4th April 2007

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called for the families of older people, particularly those with memory loss or dementia, to ensure they are taking medication correctly.

Jim Kennedy, spokesperson for the organisation warned that accidental misuse of medicines among the elderly is a risk.

He advised that pharmacists can help counter the problem by giving vulnerable people dosset boxes.

Mr Kennedy described the boxes: "The pharmacist will make up the medication in a special box. A little area of the box is opened up each day.

"You can even get these now that are electronically controlled…the computer chip will dispense that day's medication at the appropriate time and a little alarm will go off."

Alternatively he suggested that a family member can assist in dispensing the correct dosage.

The RCGP has also called for doctors to ensure that patients understand why they are taking medicines and the benefits they can expect if they take them as prescribed.

On this subject, Mr Kennedy said: "All sorts of things can influence how a patient takes their drugs, but the most important factor appears to be the quality of communication between the physician and the patient."