Today started at 5.am. and was one of those go!go!go! days, so this post is being written by the tiredest person you know. (Shared just in case someone asks, “Who’s the tiredest person you know?” Now you’ll have an answer readily available.)
Most of the day was spent with senior types, starting with a 6 a.m. Wally pick-up. Despite my repeated instructions to wait inside, Wally was standing in his driveway holding onto the side of his house to keep himself upright and shaking so hard he could barely get in my car. When I asked what was wrong, he replied that he had walked inside that morning instead of outside and that had him “messed up.” Wha…?
Oh well, when you’re 87 years old, not everything is going to make sense. He’d had a somewhat similar shakiness on Monday morning, but once he ate breakfast, he was fine. He insisted he wanted to go to breakfast, so off we went. Heaven forbid that he miss a morning with the rest of the 80s crowd.
Not only did he eat just half his breakfast (unheard of with Wally), he seemed to be nodding off during the conversation. I was more than a little worried, so as soon as I could, I got him home. After he was safely inside, having promised to lie down for a while, I called his brother-in-law to report the situation. In talking to him, I remembered that Wally had told me this brother-in-law had given him some prescription pain medication earlier in the week. I asked about it and learned that the meds had belonged to Wally’s sister, who died three years ago. I don’t know if Wally took one of the pills last night, but I suggested the brother-in-law find out and then cautioned him against giving Wally anymore meds.
What’s especially alarming is that this isn’t the first time this week I’ve cautioned an older person about medication sharing. One of the “breakfast bunch” passed along a baggie of prescription Naprosyn to another group member who was having a flare-up of gout. I suggested he go to his doctor, and he said he would mention it next month when he already had an appointment scheduled. No need paying for two doctor’s visits. (And yes, my tongue is nearly severed from biting it, thank you for asking.)
It occurred to me today that if I’ve had this discussion twice in one week within one small group of senior citizens, then this may be a growing problem elsewhere. And it’s not just the sharing of medications that concerns me. With costs of everything rising and no options for increasing their income available for seniors, many are skimping on medications, or skipping them entirely.
So in the interest of the public good, I thought I’d put together a list of “talking points” to use if the time has come to have a sit-down with the senior-types in your life.
What to Say to Your Parents about Drugs
- Know what you’re taking and why, as well as any possible side effects or possible interactions with foods and other drugs. If you don’t understand something, speak with your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
- Take all medication as prescribed.
- If there are multiple doses and/or prescriptions to be taken, establish a routine that ties the dosage with an activity. (For example, my father assigns his medications to breakfast and bedtime.)
- Keep a list of all medications being taken (prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements/herbs) with you at all times.
- Take medications even if you’re feeling better. Understand that you might be feeling better because of the medication and that stopping it may cause even more health problems.
- Thriftiness is an admirable trait, but your health isn’t worth being too chintzy. If cost is truly an issue for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about generic medications, pill-cutting, or assistance programs that may be available in your area.
- Throw away expired medications. Talk to your pharmacist to find out if the printed expiration date is “firm.”
- Don’t share your medications with friends or family members. It’s dangerous and could lead to serious problems.
And for family members: keep an up-to-date list of parental meds on hand at all times. I have my parents’ meds stored in a google doc. That way, I can get to them via iphone or, God forbid, emergency room computer.
Feel free to add your own suggestions to the list.
The rest of my morning and early afternoon was devoted to my parents and Memaw. This required a tour of the garden:
It looks a lot different than last month, except that obscene scarecrow. Sadly, it remains as before–obscene.
The rest of my day was a flurry of errands and business-y things, and I’m more than ready to call it a day. Today was a scheduled off-day for exercise, but there wasn’t any resting going on.
Hope you all had a great day! I look forward to catching up with my reader tomorrow!