Recently daughters from three different families told me about how over-medicated their elderly parents were. Many people have heard of situations like this especially with seniors who are requiring more attention. One daughter was told that her mother who was recuperating from an accident would have to move to a facility on a permanent basis where she would receive more care and less stimulation. Luckily for the mother, her daughter stood up to the doctor and told him to reduce the amount of medication her mother was on. This took the daughter a number of confrontations to have this done. Eventually, when the medication was reduced her mother returned to her former personality and was able to return to live in her own home.
This drastic change is not going to happen in every case but I do know of other cases where when the medication was adjusted or reduced, the senior became more lucid and present.
When seniors are in a vulnerable state and not able to speak for themselves, it is so important for them to have an advocate. The advocate is usually a family member who lives close by and is not intimidated by the healthcare system.
The majority of the people who I have worked with in the healthcare system are great and truly caring but totally overworked. It is the system that does not work. Families must be clear about what they expect for their parents from the healthcare system and then follow-up to ensure that it is done properly.
Families need to trust their instinct if they think that their parents are being given too much medication. A current list of dosage and frequency of all of the medications that their parents are taking should be maintained. Know the purpose for each medication and which doctor prescribed it. Review the list with the senior’s doctor to see if an adjustment needs to be made. If you are not satisfied, then go see another doctor. Seniors can be under the care of a number of doctors and all of the doctors need to know exactly what the medication mix is.
The medication list should be available to take to the hospital in case of an emergency. It will help ensure that the seniors are receiving the proper care as quickly as possible.
If the seniors are living in a facility, then the families should review the medical chart on a regular basis to know that there has not been any change in the medication, frequency or dosage. If there has been a change, find out why the change was made and who made the decision. Again, if you are not satisfied with the answer then stay vocal until you get an answer you are satisfied with.
Ultimately, a caring family member is often the only voice a senior has. I truly feel for seniors who do not have anyone to be an advocate for them.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.