I must call Nana.
That was my first thought when the editor-in-chief at Lynchburg Living sent me a writing assignment focused on how seniors can manage their medications. I knew she could give me insights from her daily life.
As I called her up, she was immediately amused. The 65+ audience is a huge demographic and senior care is a growing, profitable industry. So, the amount of information and advertising my nana sees daily is shocking.
Everyone is trying to get a chunk of that Baby Boomer business.
Care and Convenience
As I started discussing the scope of the article, she turned me onto several key concepts. First, convenience was a common selling point when people talk to seniors about healthcare. Speed, location and technology are often highlighted as benefits.
But, as I listened to my nana, I started to hear something else. She didn’t want convenience as much as she desired simplicity.
If a solution was fast, but complicated, it didn’t meet her needs. For example, medication “subscriptions” where the pharmacy automatically renews a prescription and notifies you for pickup is “convenient.” However, it’s overwhelming if you have stopped that medication or it’s one that you don’t use regularly.
Second, ease of use came up several times. My nana is very capable — saavy even. She conducts business online, interacts with us on facebook, and never loses my emails. However, common sense solutions to managing medications always seem slightly out of reach. Insurance systems, pharmeceutical customer service, and doctor’s patient portals seemed like they got in the way of health care as much as they helped it. At the end of the day, a simple day-of-the-week pill boxes remained a tried-and-true solution.
Finally, I was shocked at the amount of time my nana spends managing healthcare for her and my grandfather. In the back of my mind, I knew that they took medications, visited the doctor and used healthcare resources. In reality, the hours are more like a part-time job.
Reflecting on our conversation put me in the mindset of my audience. Based on this, I put together a list of healthcare questions for the experts I wanted to interview for my article.
Whenever I talk to someone with niche knowledge, I want to make the most of their time. I only ask basic questions for two reasons. Sometimes, I use them to break the ice with a stiff or difficult interviewee. Other times, I use it to capture a quote on a dull topic. If you have to state something that is important but, kind of boring, a quote catches the reader’s attention.
For this interview, I chose to dive straight into the niche information.
The article wasn’t very long and the “tips” needed to be valuable.
Both of the experts that I interviewed work at Assisted Living facilities, bringing a hands-on perspective to managing medications. For example, Barker, a nurse at The Summit, pointed out that seniors should keep a printed list of their current medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements. During a health emergency, it quickly updates the assisting doctor. Barker said, “The hospital doesn’t always have a list.”
It’s so obvious that it’s kind of genius.
I was able to include some current information too — like how pharmacies offer “pill packs.” Essentially, they arrange all your medications into packs that you take each day, labeled by time of day. This prevents seniors from confusing or forgetting their dosages.
With these tips in hand, I circled back to my nana. I wanted to see if she had feedback on any of the expert’s tips. For example, she had actually started using pill packs for my grandfather and liked them. Our second conversation helped me whittle the information down to the top insights.
Whenever I’m faced with an unfamiliar subject area, I try to find a way to put myself in the mindset of my audience. Often, that means talking to someone who fits that demographic to help me understand what they would most want to read. Then, I’m able to focus my project on the most valuable information.
Read my article Take the Headache Out of Managing Meds at Lynchburg Living.