Friday, June 03, 2011
If you are old or care for an elder, watch those meds
I am an elder, I guess. But a woman wrote to Dr Michael Levin, a medical toxicologist at Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center here in AZ, saying she had recently taken over her 74-year-old mother’s care and was worried about managing the meds.
This can be a huge problem because many older people have more than one wheel coming off (myself included).
First, Levine says, keep an up-to-date list of her (or your) meds, including over-the-counter ones like the daily aspirin, allergy meds, and vitamins and supplements.
Go over the list with the doctor. Take the pill bottles in a bag if you want. Keep copies of the list at home and in your wallet or purse.
You should also know in your own mind what each medication is for. The pharmacist can help you there if the doctor is too busy.
Write down special instructions—time of day, grapefruit juice OK or not, with food or not.
Write down side effects to watch for (you could even read that material the drugstore gives you).
If the meds expire, dispose of them properly, maybe at a disposal center if you know of one. We don’t need to be drinking all this in the water supply.
When taking meds, turn on the lights and wear glasses, Levine says. Sounds simple---but I have not done it and lived to call myself an idiot.
When leaving the ER, or after a hospital stay, be very sure you are clear on the meds. Sometimes they discharge you with prescriptions—should you or your relative take these in addition to the old ones, instead of, what?
Very important: If the patient seems to feel crappy or different, it could be the meds, not the disease.