Food insecurity or "a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food" impacts many Americans and especially impacts aging adults.
In 2021, nearly 1 in 6 aging adults were affected by some type of food insecurity, which represents a number of almost 8 million people. Eight million aging adults is a huge number of people who may lack reliable access to food due to factors such as low income, little or no help with transportation or grocery shopping, and access to over-the-counter items such as protein drinks, dry goods, or medicines, or a fear of leaving the house in the midst of the pandemic. It's important that we work to find reliable and relatively simple solutions for food insecurity and reliable medication access.
Here at Avanlee Care, we are passionate about reducing food insecurity for seniors across the country and are working to remedy this situation with the Avanlee App. Today we're going to talk through more about food insecurity and the importance of easier access to groceries (as well as over-the-counter medications and dry goods) for aging Americans and their caregivers, as well as some ways we can help.
As we mentioned earlier, there are a variety of reasons that prevent aging Americans from accessing food including unreliable transportation, fear of illness (especially with COVID-19, rampant flu seasons, and other new outbreaks popping up), or help shopping for groceries and help with unpacking them. Other factors in food insecurity include a lack of access to grocery stores, financial constraints preventing purchasing balanced meals, and product prices. Some of these factors can be resolved with some simple steps, while others are going to require significantly more effort as the food system will need steps to update how the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and other food assistance programs work to better serve more people.
For the purposes of this blog, we're going to focus on some easier steps to help improve food and over the counter (OTC) medication accessibility for your aging loved ones
Access to OTC medications can be just as difficult for aging Americans as access to healthy food. However, many OTC medicines have counter interactions with prescription medications that require Pharmacist consultation, and if a care receiver lacks the specific education about their medication interactions and buys OTC medications that they hope will help resolve other symptoms, problems can emerge (even Benadryl and cold medicine can have devastating interactions with prescription meds).
Having a system to empower caregivers to provide OTC products for their loved ones in an educated controlled fashion could potentially help resolve a lot of the risks associated with unbridled access to OTC medications for aging Americans. It's important to consult with you or your loved one's pharmacist with their complete medication list before introducing an OTC medication, no matter how innocuous the drug may seem. Older Americans are at an increased risk of OTC medication-related harm, and having both education and an action plan in place for managing the use and access of OTC medications can make a huge difference. The National Institute of Health (NIH) notes that "it is critical to inform older adults that 'OTC' is not synonymous with 'safe' medication. It is also critical to make older adults aware of resources that may be able to help them determine the safety of an OTC medication, such as a pharmacist who is an available and cost-effective resource."
Consequently, it's important to stay educated, stay in contact with your pharmacist, and practice open communication with your loved ones as you navigate OTC medications and existing prescriptions.
The Avanlee app can help facilitate these conversations, and keep you informed of what medications your care receiver is already taking. Make sure you've entered their medication schedule in the app, and stop by the pharmacy if you have any questions for your pharmacist about introducing OTC medications your care receiver may want or need.
Whether you're living remotely or in the same town as your loved ones, it can be overwhelming to coordinate all of the aspects of care for your care receiver(s), not to mention navigating grocery and OTC access. If your loved one is mobile and able to drive and handle shopping, this might not be a present worry, but as their health or abilities evolve with age, food insecurity can increase.
Online shopping, delivery, and fulfillment can be a transformative option to help reduce food insecurity, and some services even offer OTC fulfillment services as well. The Avanlee Care app offers both of these options, and depending on your family's needs and location, you can manage grocery and OTC delivery powered by Walmart directly from the Avanlee App.
With the Avanlee App, you can create grocery lists for both OTC products such as medications, dry goods, or even protein drinks, and grocery products that you can have delivered to your care receiver's home directly. Ordering these daily necessities virtually can help eliminate the need for scheduling a trip to your nearest grocery store, can help you and your loved one pick what products they want, need, like, and dislike (from the comfort of your couch!) and can help reduce some of the simpler forms of food insecurity.
Additionally, the ability to order grocery and OTC items from your phone allows you and your care receiver to have conversations about the OTC medications they may think they need versus what they actually need, and open the door to an opportunity for education about drug interactions. If you're concerned about the OTC items you may need to order, you can also use the Avanlee app to order dry goods and other OTC products such as bandaids, protein drinks, lotion, and other daily necessities. If your Pharmacist isn't comfortable with OTC medication use for your care receiver, you can still take advantage of online ordering and delivery services through the Avanlee app.
Depending on your needs, you can take care of grocery shopping, OTC needs, or both directly through the Avanlee app. We’re here to help reduce food insecurity in aging adults and to help simplify some of the tasks associated with caregiving. You can get started for free with the Avanlee app and grocery/OTC fulfillment at our website.
Make sure you check with your medical providers if you're starting or stopping any OTC meds.