Monday, March 17, 2014

Can the elderly really trust doctors?

Each day I turn on my TV set and a commercial that keeps popping up that says: 'people over forty are the most likely to overdose on their prescription medications,' just bothers me. Why?  If this is so, I conclude it is more than likely the fault of doctors prescribing way too much medications for older people.

I get irked when the medical profession tries to insinuate that some people just don't know how to take their medications, or that they are drug seekers.  This may be true in a few cases, but those cases are few and far between.

True story:  I have two elderly brothers-in-law who were taking way more medications than they probably should have.  First one got sick and went to the emergency room and later on the second one did the same thing.  What sent them there?  Both were feeling ill and their symptoms got worse so they went to the ER seeking help.  Both ended up staying in the hospital for several days.  The problem, in both cases, was the doctors had prescribed too much medication for both of them.  One was taking eleven medications for quite some time.  So much for doctors checking what medications you are already on and checking to see if they would be contraindicated.  They both, when we questioned them about why so much medication said: "Well my doctor prescribed them and they wouldn't give me anything that I didn't need."  Yeah, right.

It's so easy to say: "Oh they must be senile.  Someone should set the proper amounts for them daily."  But in these two cases, both are alert and oriented times 3, meaning they are as with it as you and I are.  So don't be so quick to blame the elderly.

You can also assume that the elderly in nursing homes are protected by this sort of thing.  Think again!  A nurse in one of the nursing homes I worked at told me once: "The elderly are just fine if they can stay as far away from doctors as possible."  She didn't mean in the case of life threatening conditions, she meant that MD's like to over prescribe.  She also gave me advice of: "When you are over 50, try your best to take no more than 2 medications and you will be better off."  I suspect she was right.

Become an informed layman.  Question everything your doctor prescribes.  Tell them you want the medications where the side effect is Not death.  That may sound silly, but listen to the warnings on most commercials for prescription medications on TV.  

I hope this blog is informative and if you have a loved one in a nursing home, ask about their medications and question everything.  If your loved ones live at home, check their medicine cabinets and go with them to a doctor visit whenever possible.  Takes time, you say?  Well when you were young, they went with you to the doctor's office, why can't you take the time for them?

Just because someone has a medical degree doesn't mean they know it all, remember this, they help big pharma too many times to Not question their motives. 

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