Pharmacy Benefits for Seniors: Advantages to Benefit From

A lot changes as you get older. Whether it is physiological (like an aging body) or social (like retirement), your health can be impacted in a number of ways. Don't let those changes overwhelm you. Turn to your healthcare team to get the support you need. Your pharmacists in particular, like those at CVS Pharmacy, have more to offer than you know.

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Assistance With Physical Changes

No one can avoid the natural process of aging, as much as you might try to! Muscle mass decreases and with it the amount of total water in your body. As a result, the percentage of body fat increases. Although you may not feel it, there will be physiologic changes that decrease function in your liver and kidneys too. Your GI tract may also become less effective at absorbing certain substances and your stomach will secrete more acid.

These changes affect how well you are able to absorb and metabolize medications. Medications are more likely to have higher concentrations in the blood. Drugs that need to be activated in the liver may take longer to have an effect. It may also take longer for certain medications to clear out of your system. Together, this can increase your risk for medication side effects and drug-drug interactions. A quick consultation with your pharmacist could uncover medications that could put you at risk.

Pharmacists can recommend changes in how you take your medication—with or without water, with or without food, and at what time of day to improve how well it works and to decrease side effects.

If there are concerns about the dosing of your medication, your pharmacist can reach out to your doctor to discuss possible adjustments or alternative medications.

Assistance With Lifestyle Changes

You may face some major life changes in your senior years. Whether it's retirement, downsizing, moving in with family members, moving into an assisted living facility or a nursing home, or another life event, you will want to minimize other unnecessary disruptions to your routine. You already have enough to deal with! When it comes to your medications, your pharmacist can help.

  • Easy-open packaging: Not everyone has the dexterity to twist open prescription bottles. Your medication can be put into more user-friendly bottles or blister packs to help.
  • Home delivery: Some pharmacies, like CVS, offer home delivery of your medications.
  • Medication bundles: If you take multiple medications, your pharmacist can simplify your regimen by bundling medications together based on the time of day you should take them. This makes it less likely you will miss a dose or will take a medication at the wrong time of day. Multiple services, such as CVS Pharmacy, offer this benefit.
  • Medication synchronization: Your pharmacist can help synchronize your prescription refills so you can pick up your medications in fewer visits.
  • Stress management: Any lifestyle change can be stressful, at least at first. Your local pharmacist can provide information on stress management (and other common health issues) and can direct you to resources in your community that offer support.

Assistance With Cost and Convenience

An issue most people deal with as they get older is a decrease in income. Not everyone saves enough for retirement and many people rely on their Social Security benefits alone. Those benefits depend on how much you paid into the system over the years.

In 2020, people who put in the maximum amount will earn $2,265 per month if they retire at 62 years old, $2,857 at 65 years old, or $3,790 at 70 years old.

A fixed income becomes especially concerning when you consider the cost of prescription medications. As many as 89 percent of people 65 and older take a prescription medication and 54 percent take four or more. Of those people requiring medication, as many as 20 percent do not take their medications as prescribed to save money. That may mean they skip doses, take half doses, or do not fill their prescriptions at all.

Your health should not suffer because of the cost. That is where your pharmacist can help by:

  • Changing to Generic Medications: Brand-name medications cost more than generics. Some of the medications you take may have a generic version that could save you money. If not, there may be generics of similar medications that could help. Ask your pharmacist if there are reasonable alternatives for any brand-name medications.
  • "Downsizing" Your Medication List: Not all of your medications may need to be taken long-term. You may want to review your medication list with your pharmacist.
  • Manufacturer Drug Coupons: Your pharmacist may be able to direct you to coupons, rebates, or vouchers for medications that you take.
  • Prescription Assistance Programs: Your pharmacist may be able to direct you to State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) or Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) offered by some drug manufacturers.

Making the Most of Medicare

Medicare is a healthcare program run by the federal government. To be eligible, you must have a qualifying disability or you must be 65 years or older. The change in coverage from an employer health plan to Medicare can be striking. Thankfully, Medicare Part D covers a large variety of prescription medications. That does not always mean that it covers every medication you need though.

There may be times you could save money by using a manufacturer drug coupon, especially if you have a high copay. Unfortunately, it is against the law to use one of these drug coupons with Medicare Part D. That said, you may be able to use the coupon if you pay out of pocket and defer using Medicare Part D for that particular prescription refill. Now that pharmacy gag laws have been lifted, your pharmacist can let you know which option would cost you more and can discuss any advantages/disadvantages in doing so.

Your pharmacist can help you navigate the Medicare system. Specifically, they can guide you towards a Part D plan that will be more cost-effective for the medications you currently take. You can change your Medicare Part D plan during the Open Enrollment Period, October 15 to December 7 every year.

A Word From Verywell

Your pharmacist is a great resource to help you in your golden years. They know what makes Medicare Part D tick, can help you decrease costs, and can help streamline your medication regimen. Not only that, they can educate you about a common health issues and are available without an appointment.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mangoni AA, Jackson SH. Age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics: basic principles and practical applicationsBr J Clin Pharmacol. 2004;57(1):6–14. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.02007.x

  2. Social Security Administration. Workers with maximum-taxable earnings.

  3. Kirzinger A, Neuman T, Cubanski J, Brodie M. Data note: prescription drugs and older adults. Kaiser Family Foundation. Updated August 9, 2019.

  4. U.S. Congress. S.2553 - A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to prohibit Medicare part D plans from restricting pharmacies from informing individuals regarding the prices for certain drugs and biologicals.

By Tanya Feke, MD
Tanya Feke, MD, is a board-certified family physician, patient advocate and best-selling author of "Medicare Essentials: A Physician Insider Explains the Fine Print."