An experienced clinical researcher, pharmacist, and medication management professional, Mary Pat Higley currently offers her services as an independent medical and data analysis consultant. Mary Pat Higley comes to her current role having served as a clinical pharmacist specialist with Kaiser Permanente, in which role she evaluated prescriptions for elderly patients in skilled nursing and home care.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 55 percent of elders fail to take their medications as prescribed. This is a serious issue for both the patients and for the home health care workers who are charged with their care. Caregivers can work with elderly patients to improve their compliance, but there are typically many factors that make that challenging. For example, elderly patients who need to take medication on their own may not see well and may need larger print on the label to read the directions for use.
Similarly, an individual with memory problems may need a reminder system, such as a pill box marked with dates and times, while those with arthritis or other dexterity issues may need a bottle that is easier to open. Patients with difficulty swallowing may attempt to crush or split their pills, and it falls to health care workers to inform the patients and their families whether this is safe or not. If not, a different delivery system may be necessary. Medication management techniques will vary by patient, and it is vitally important that caregivers work with each senior individually to determine what would be most helpful to them.
A medical and data analysis consultant by profession, Mary Pat Higley enjoys training therapy dogs in her free time. Mary Pat Higley also regularly takes therapy dogs on visits to local hospitals, nursing homes, and other care centers.
Therapy dogs can provide welcome companionship to a wide variety of populations, ranging from schoolchildren who have experienced a trauma to seriously ill patients in hospitals. Unlike seeing-eye dogs and other service animals, these dogs often begin their therapeutic “careers” as everyday household pets with no previous training. They do, however, need to have a gentle and friendly temperament.
Experts suggest that a good therapy dog is one that is calm around strangers and gets along well with other dogs. The dog should also be responsive to commands and able to move through a crowd without distraction, stay relaxed in a chaotic environment, and behave well in different surroundings. Similarly, to be a volunteer handler, an owner should be friendly with and comfortable around all types of people and be comfortable in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care settings.
To get your dog certified as a therapy animal, he or she first needs to train with an experienced professional. Reputable organizations provide assessment and education using positive reinforcement for the dog, and they should be able to give follow-up support after course completion and successful certification. However, the owner should also be willing to work regularly with the dog to maintain his or her skills.
Medical data consulting professional and former clinical pharmacist Mary Pat Higley is a resident of Newport, California. An active member of the Mariners Church in Irvine, Mary Pat Higley volunteers her time with the church’s high school ministry.
The high school ministry at Mariners Church offers teenage students the opportunity to experience Christian fellowship with their peers in the form of life groups, weekend services, and special event outings. Life groups provide a comfortable atmosphere for groups of 10 to 15 students to study scriptures, discuss faith, and learn about the teachings of Jesus. Special event outings, such as attending Los Angeles Galaxy soccer games, present high school members of Mariners Church with the opportunity to socialize and bond.
Weekend worship services for high school students take place in Student Center Room 1 on Sundays at 11 a.m. Prospective student members who feel anxious about attending Sunday service for the first time can meet with Mariners Church high school ministry staff prior to the service to connect and feel comfortable joining in on worship.