When someone is cognitively impaired, they have difficulty concentrating, learning, making decisions, and remembering events. This kind of impairment affects about 16 million people in the United States. Moreover, the number of people with the condition is projected to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages.
In 2020, almost six million people over the age of 65 had Alzheimer’s disease, which is a severe form of cognitive impairment. The number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow to almost 14 million by 2050.
There are several risk factors for cognitive impairment, some of which can be eliminated through lifestyle changes. Age is a big factor, and although nothing can be done about aging, there are other factors over which people have greater control, such as cardiovascular conditions, hearing and vision problems, hormonal imbalances, sleep difficulties, and taking certain medications.
There is no cure, but some of the causes can be treated.
Medicare now covers cognitive impairment care planning. Services covered include clinical visits and written care planning for those who have been diagnosed with the condition.
The Role of the Pharmacist
Pharmacists can help in the treatment of cognitively impaired people in several different ways.
They can work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to help with cognitive impairment care planning. Working under the supervision of the healthcare provider, pharmacists are qualified to conduct many of the required evaluations.
Pharmacists can help to fill a big gap in diagnosing this condition. Not many healthcare providers use the cognitive impairment care planning service, and less than one percent of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in the service in 2017. There are many more Medicare beneficiaries with cognitive impairment who are eligible for the service.
Using their knowledge of medications and risk factors, pharmacists can assist providers here by helping them to evaluate and treat patients with cognitive impairment.
Such planning also enables pharmacists to use their knowledge of common chronic diseases and medications that help cause cognitive decline. By working with providers, pharmacists can lend support, link other healthcare professionals to needed resources, and improve cognitive care for patients.
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