Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Is Your Parent Being Overmedicated?

Phyllis Staff writes an informative article on how her father was severely overmedicated after entering a nursing home. She also offers resources to assess this problem.

We had a similar experience when my step dad went into the nursing home. They prescribed a new pill for every problem. His diabetes, which had always been controlled by diet, now required insulin. They prescribed diuretics to counteract meds that increased water retention. And of course, his medication costs went up significantly. Since moving to the board and care home, he no longer needs insulin. And we’ve been able to drop a couple of other meds, although he’s still taking more than I’d like him to.

One problem we faced with the nursing home was that, rather than having his primary care physician follow him, his medical group hires a nursing home physician. This person who didn’t know him or his history was suddenly in charge and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. This physician was never around and never returned my phone calls. I was able to work through the nurse manager, but would have preferred to deal directly with the doctor. Now we’re back with his primary, and we feel a lot better about the medication management. We’ve asked him to also manage and monitor the meds prescribed by Dad’s various specialists.

However in the final analysis, it’s important that we monitor our parents’ meds, whether they are in a nursing home, a care home, or at home, especially if they have several doctors prescribing for them. It’s all too easy for an interaction or allergy to slip through the cracks.

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