Peoples Drug Stores and the National Institute on Aging yesterday released the first eight in a series of jointly produced pamphlets on problems of aging that Peoples will distribute through its more than 500 stores in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
The pamphlets cover a range of topics, from care of teeth and nutrition to awareness of the dangers of extremely hot and cold weather.
They were prepared by Peoples from materials supplied by the institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Peoples is paying the cost of printing the pamphlets -- about $150,000 according to a spokesman -- and another $600,000 for a multimedia advertising campaign on the theme of "Living with Aging."
The pamphlets provide general advice as well as specific suggestions for older persons. The pamphlet on "Heat, Cold and Being Old," for example, warns of the dangers of hypothermia -- the lowering of the body's temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia is a particularly insidious problem for older persons since they very often do not feel the sensation of being cold as their body temperature drops. The pamphlet gives specific protective measures to be taken to guard against hypothermia.
A more general pamphlet, "Finding Good Medical Care for Older Americans," advises elderly persons that aging does not necessarily mean physical and mental decline but it does mean that they will respond differently to specific ailments.
"For example," the pamphlet says, "a heart attack may occur in an older person without chest pains, appendicitis may occur with less abdominal tenderness than a younger person may experience."
Older persons are also advised to demand appropriate attention and care from their physicians: "Does your doctor listen to you and answer all your questions about the causes and treatment of your physical problems? Or is he or she vague, impatient, or unwilling to answer? Is your doctor too reliant on and too quick to prescribe drugs without dealing with the real causes of your medical problems?"
The pamphlets were developed from "age pages" -- one-page condensed discussions of specific problems of the elderly -- printed and distributed by the National Institute on Aging.
A spokeswoman for the National Institute on Aging said that Peoples was performing a "genuine public service" since the institute's printing budget has been "very curtailed" by the Reagan administration's budget cuts. NIA had been distributing the pages through the mail or by supermarket displays, but since both cost too much money, distribution had to be stopped.
In addition to distributing the pamphlets in their stores free of charge, Peoples will make them available to nonprofit groups and community organizations. Peoples also has asked NIA to prepare briefing kits on problems of the elderly for distribution to their pharmacists since customers frequently ask the pharmacists for advice.
Persons 60 and older are more than 10 percent of the population in the metropolitan area, but they constitute 25 percent of Peoples' prescription drug business, according to Joseph A. Pollard, the chain's vice president for public relations.