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Seniors Learn to Halt Medication Abuse

May 07, 1987|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Bombarded by a barrage of get-well/get-beautiful advertisements, elderly residents often get overloaded with drugs and treatments they don't really need, city health officials say.

For that reason, the city is launching a program aimed at seniors, a group suffering from "a chronic abuse of medication," according to Gwen Edelstein, an administrative officer with the city's Health Department. Edelstein said that abuse can also mean taking too little of prescribed medicines.

The Long Beach Health Department received a one-time $49,584 state grant for a program called PEP (Pills, Education and Prevention.) On Tuesday, the City Council authorized approval of an agreement with the state Department of Health Services for Special Needs and Priorities to develop the senior medication education program.

"We're attempting to educate our seniors on the effective way to take medication," said Rugmini Shah, the city's health officer.

The new program, now in the planning stages, eventually will include videos of local seniors talking about problems with medications, Edelstein said.

"Here's Mrs. Smith, and she's 84, and here she is talking about her problem with over-medicating herself," Edelstein said of the videos, which would be presented to others at the Long Beach Senior Center.

A pharmacist and a public health nurse will conduct one-on-one sessions with the elderly, hand each one a carry-on medical record, conduct lectures, counseling and group sessions, said Edelstein, a nurse practitioner.

Health Department staff members also hope to use a computer to detect when a combination of medications might be harmful, Edelstein said. During the one-on-one interviews, seniors also can discuss their diets and have their blood pressure taken, she said.

The project will be integrated into existing senior health services already offered by the city's Health Department, Shah said.

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