Is Your Aging Parent on Too Many Meds?
By the time Janet Johnson’s father reached his mid-80s, he was on so many medications their names are now impossible to recall. There were pills for managing his cholesterol, blood pressure, and asthma, says Johnson, an administrative assistant who lives near Minneapolis. Other drugs helped with his sleep problems and treated his type 2 diabetes. There were more, too, but who can remember? One thing was certain though: As the number of prescriptions increased, his health seemed to get worse.
“As he aged, he fell often and was confused. It was awful,” Johnson remembers. It turns out her father’s symptoms weren’t a sign of age-related decline, as she’d suspected. Instead, he was over-medicated, and it was taking a toll. “Finally, he was seen by a new doctor who took him off most of his medications, keeping only those that were critical,” Johnson says. Now, at age 88, he’s doing far better—a direct result of reducing the number of prescriptions he’s on.
Johnson’s story about her father is not unusual. When older adults take multiple drugs with varying side effects without proper management, they can find themselves dealing with everything from falls with hip fractures, to confusion and delirium. In some cases, drug interactions are lethal.
It’s often true that the older we get, the more prescriptions we add to our medicine cabinets. And if you’re caring for a loved one who has trouble keeping track of these meds…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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