We are about to change my elderly parents primary physician. A geriatric internist, he is friendly but his follow-up is terrible. Medications that he has prescribed and need his approval for refill languish for weeks, somewhere in limbo, and require multiple calls to get filled. Each of my parents take nearly 20 pills apiece and feels that they are overmedicated. When they have asked him about this, he seems unfamiliar with what he has prescribed for them and states that he will taper them down and then does nothing. They feel that this doctor prescribes pills to mask aches and pains but does little to find the source. However, who is willing to take on new patients in their mid-80’s with numerous ailments, albeit age appropriate?
It is not news that our healthcare system is failing. HMO’s are on the lookout for healthy, profitable patients, according to doctors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woodhandler in “For Patients, Not for Profits”:
Not surprisingly, research shows high satisfaction and good outcomes for healthy HMO members. But even the best HMOs under treat the sick. HMO stroke patients get less rehabilitation and more often end up in nursing homes. Medicare HMO patients are denied needed home care. Depressed patients in HMOs are less likely to be diagnosed, get less treatment, and are more frequently disabled by their illness. Poor, sick patients have a 21% higher risk of dying in HMOs than in fee-for-service care.
How does one go about finding the increasingly rare, caring, responsible doctor willing to treat failing, elderly patients? Your feedback on your experiences would be really appreciated.
My mom & her husband, Sid have been married for 38 years. This is a second marriage for both of them. They each have two children, each having a boy & girl.
Sid’s children believe that he should no longer be driving. They want my mom to back out of the way so that the two of them (Sid’s biological children) can strip him of his car keys. This decision was prompted by many factors. One is that Sid walks with a cane & is very unstable. Another is that he has been taking two medications that together have caused him delusions & slurring his words. The difficulty is this … my mom feels that her first allegiance is to her husband. She feels fiercely protective of him & cannot condone this action. My mom swears that she is monitoring Sid’s medication & that he is a “good driver”. She says that he is not a danger to himself or a menace to others on the road. My mom believes that a man’s dignity & pride are tied up in this issue. I can also see that my mom is trying to preserve Sid’s independence both for him and for herself!
This feels so messy. Is there anyone else out there that has dealt with this??? HELP
I have noticed that my 86 year old father has memory loss and while it is probably age appropriate, it has also made me wonder at times if overmedication is part of the cause. Then, when reading the New York Times, I saw that Federal health officials had released a safety alert regarding statins, which many seniors, like Dad, take for cholesterol. They said that there may be rare risks of forgetfulness, confusion, muscle pain and even diabetes. Lipitor, Vytorin, Crestor and Zocor were among those named.
This reminded me of when alerts were first released for Fosamax and other bisphosphonates which had been prescribed for my mother and her severe osteoporosis. After years on the drug, she suddenly lost her ability to swallow, also described as a rare side effect of this pill. She had never had any prior esophagus trouble, so Fosamax became suspect! Right?
How seriously should we view these warnings? Big drug companies understandably play down the side effects of these huge sellers. And how does one decide which is worse – using the drug to treat a serious medical problem and ignoring the “rare” consequences or refuse to take it and risk the health issue becoming much worse? Would love to hear from others how they weigh and make their decisions for both themselves and loved ones.
To read the article I refer to, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/health/fda-warns-of-cholesterol-drugs-side-effects.html
submitted by Norma
My mom is not herself, but who could be when taking 19 different medications a day for various conditions? Is she over-medicated? Probably, but her doctor has prescribed and is very aware of every pill she takes. Which pill or pills would mom want to give up, as she has been reassured that each is necessary in itself? Her doctor seems to become indignant when she questions him about this.
A friend in the retirement home she lives in was talkative and vivacious. In the last few weeks this woman has become withdrawn and shaky. She had complained of headaches and is now taking medication to alleviate the pain, but at what price? Where is the Nancy we knew?
Drugs do save lives, treat symptoms and alleviate pain but how does one deal with the psychological side effects? According to Health Watchers’ News and Views in a November 2010 article, “Experts estimate that up to one-third of the elderly in our communities may be over-medicated and some 20% of their hospital admissions are due to adverse drug events. The costs related to over-medication in the elderly are thought to exceed $80 billion each year.”
Help me help my mom. What has been your experience with over medication in a loved one and how have you approached/confronted her primary physician? I could use some guidance as I tackle this seemingly delicate, but also crucial and common situation. Written by girlfriend in Iowa, Susan