There is a culture of over-medication and unneeded procedural care in senior care.
Having seen first-hand pill bottles galore in the cabinets of many seniors, the question has to be asked: are seniors being over-medicated? Stories abound in community centers, assisted living, nursing homes and in the homes of those seniors still living at home, of seniors taking an excess of 25 pills a day. Geeze, what are all the meds for?
Are all these pills needed? Are they necessary? What is their purpose? Is there duplication? Do the prescribing doctors know what other medications the senior is taking?
There can be an enormous lack of communication between specialists (there could be several) and the senior’s general practitioner. Often, it is the pharmacist who sees that a negative reaction is about to occur! Sometimes the senior is using more than one pharmacy. What then?
Who is staying on top of the med-list? Who is responsible for updating a senior’s information? The general practitioner? The pharmacist or pharmacists? A family member? The caregiver? Who?
There are many seniors that have no idea why they are taking a particular medication; all they know is that it was prescribed to them. Well, honestly, our seniors need to know more.
The real issue is: who knows the WHY in relation to the senior’s care? When a senior receives specific medication, who is it that makes the decision that the meds are a necessity? Are there alternative or more natural means of targeting the senior’s symptom or illness? Who knows this? Who should know this?
Recently, geriatric care managers have surfaced, and the above is why they have become important. They actually review the senior’s med list and they are charged with making sure the meds are not excessive or harmful. Often, a geriatric care manager will find that a senior’s specialist is changing up the meds with instructions for the patient to return for a follow-up in several weeks. What if the senior doesn’t have a geriatric care manager? Will that senior go back? Who is checking on that senior? Did they stop taking their meds? Are they filling in with older meds, meds that should have been discarded? The dissemination of prescription drugs to seniors without a true overseer is a serious problem.
There are many, many doctors, caregivers and family members that are trying to do the right thing by their senior clients, patients and family members. They are true advocates for their clients and loved ones. The fact remains that most seniors have several levels of care and someone needs to be the consistent person responsible for the medicinal needs of that senior.
Questions to ask and get the answers to: why is a certain medication needed, and how does it interact with meds that are already being prescribed? Is the senior being medicated because of behavior (seniors’ individual personalities and traits should not be controlled through medication)? Is the medication that was prescribed working as it was intended?
There is an additional struggle in the healthcare industry as it pertains to the over-use of procedures: repeated labs, MRIs, X-Rays, and so forth. Do 80-90 yr olds need preventive care (scopes, mammography, pelvics)? Are these procedures really going to make their lives better?When is enough enough? Who is minding the store?
The key element in all this is a strong doctor-patient and patient-caregiver relationship. If seniors receive regular visits from family and friends, there is the capacity to nip problems in the bud. Unfortunately, this is not something our healthcare system usually promotes or accommodates.
Sadly, a key issue in the prescribing of too much medication goes back to the profits of the pharmaceutical companies, and given the fact that many seniors are hesitant to question their providers, change must come through “the boomers.” We must ask the hard questions and request the availability of other alternatives to assist in our parents’ and our treatment.
Become an advocate for what is right and just. Do not worry about hurting someone’s feelings or being politically correct. Do not worry about offending the physician by questioning his knowledge. This is someone’s life and rights. We are talking about seniors do not need over-medication and countless invasive procedures.
Check out some practical advice and think about requesting (FREE) Home Instead Senior Care’s Emergency Kit.