I would like to touch on a topic that is close to my heart: the elderly and all the medications from so many different doctors.
I have a little story to tell so that you can understand where my passion and love for the elderly come from.
When I was a little girl and even into adulthood, I had a granny (pictured below) that loved me warts and all. When I had nothing or anybody that cared, she was there. I loved her and all her friends. I loved the stories, smells, bingo, food, you name it and if she did it ,I loved it.
So fast forward to now, she is my heart even today!
As we age things change, slow down and we may not be as quick as we used to be.
Meet the people where THEY are
Some times we are hard of hearing and we require people to speak up and speak slowly. So knowing that about my favorites (elderly), I have a style of nursing that puts the power back into their hands and gives them a boost of confidence in their plan of care (POC).
Being a home health nurse, one of the most important teachings that I have completed with my patients is about medications. Safety comes in as a close second but more on that another day. When I first started doing home health nursing I was so excited to be able to work with the elderly and went in with my whole heart.
Too many doctors… none of them talking
One of the first things I learned was elderly have several different docors for a variety of diagnosis. For example, they may have a cardiac, pulmonologist, Primary Care doctor, urologist, gastro, diabetes and even an ortho doctors.
So as you can see one patient may have as many as seven doctors. What I have learned over the past several years is that doctors don’t talk to one another and so its left up to the elderly to try and manage their plan of care.
Take stock of all your medicines
The most useful I can do for my patients is to take the time to evaluate ALL the meds from all doctors involved, I then begin asking questions about quality of life, side effects and is there anything crazy going on.
For example: I had a patient that had a really low blood pressure, dizzy, and chronic diarrhea. He says to me, the Dr’s can’t figure it out and could I help?
So I dive in and take a look at what he is taking. Turns out he was taking three blood pressure meds from two different doctors. Crazy, right?
So I have him track his blood pressure three times a day, resting, after meds and before bed.
The next time I see him I call the Dr and gave him the data and we reduced his blood pressure meds.
Common sense goes a long way to reducing “pill overload”
Long story short, we were able to eliminate two blood pressure meds and all symptoms went away and his quality of life was changed dramatically. This is just one of hundreds of stories that I have.
Keep your eyes open for my medication check list that can truly make a difference for your aging parent or even for yourself.