I heard Dr Paula Rochon speak to a small but extremely attentive group of senior seniors. The topic: Medications and the elderly. Rochon is a Geriatrician by training, and her research focus and passion is medication. My take-away:
don’t underestimate the impact of medications – the time and effort and challenges required to take ‘em, and the potential effect on other functions.
I spoke with Dr. Rochon afterwards, and she clued me in to specific issues related to medications and aging, and a message to pass along to fellow females:
Women have to be particularly diligent because so much medication research is done with men.
Here’s what I learned:
- Even if your parent’s been taking the same medication(s) forever, it’s still a good idea to get them reviewed every 4 -6 months. Why? Because aging bodies may not need as much of any one medication. Ask if all medications are necessary, or if any medications can be eliminated
- If new medication is prescribed, find out what it’s for, if it’s replacing something else, and how it’ll interact with other medications food and drink.
- Much as weight plays a huge role in how much medication infants are given, as an aging body shrinks, they may not need as much medication. Know your parents weight and height
- Many medications, or combination of medications can cause confusion, which can lead to a mess o problems: confusion, losing balance and falling, misplacing glasses, dentures, and often –are you ready for this: misdiagnosis of dementia or early Alzheimers.
- Many pills are hard to swallow, and having to swallow a lot of pills can be a real trial – especially if your parent’s already having trouble swallowing. But: before crushing, dissolving or splitting, make sure it won’t affect the medications’ being effective
- Since medication is processed by our kidneys, how well they’re functioning affects how much medication is prescribed. If your parent doesn’t know his/her kidney functions, ask their doctor to get a blood test requisitioned.
- If your parent’s hospitalized, be aware that patients are often automatically prescribed sleeping pills, which can cause confusion.
An AHA moment: sleeping pills can be refused!
Suggested reading: Medical Decisions