Friday, October 21, 2011

Seniors and Medications. Make sure Your Pharmacist Works for You by Paula Stone

A senior recently found out just how bad it can be for seniors with multiple health issues.

He has glaucoma. His eye doctor prescribed a medication for his glaucoma.

The doctor knew his entire health history, which includes a lot of heart problems, though the patient never had a heart attack

But the glaucoma medications he was taking can cause heart attacks in people who are at risk.

It should never have been prescribed for this particular patient.

He had a heart attack in January.

And then…finally…his eye doctor took him off the medication…too late.

This is something a good pharmacist might notice, too, but his didn’t, even though he is a family friend.

Doctors make mistakes.

Medicines conflict with each other and seniors often pay the price.

And prescriptions are strong medicine.

One of the effects social workers see in seniors is mental confusion that is caused by medications.

Mental confusion may NOT be Alzheimer’s in all cases.

For one thing there are different kinds of dementia. Brain damage from strokes is just one other. But people often recover significantly from strokes.

Even a lack of B vitamins can cause mental confusion and slurred speech, especially in cancer patients who have not been able to eat.

And nursing homes often drug patients to keep them quiet, a practice that makes them seem more fragile and disabled than they really are.

Simple exhaustion can make people, even young people confused. Just ask any new parent.

But it is worse for seniors, because people around them assume their minds are going when they aren’t.

My doctor carries around a little manual that has facts about different medications listed in it. Some people might assume that she is less than expert.

I feel differently.

I have a lot of allergies to medicines, including some that could kill me. I want a doctor that checks everything twice.

And I always ask the pharmacist if she sees a problem, too. She knows me and she cares. I depend on her.