Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How many pills do you take?

Working the med cart for a day and a half has been a revelation. I have a couple residents who are on more than 15 different pills. Granted, two or three of them are vitamins, but... wow. Can you say over-medicated? Furthermore, the ones with the most pills don't seem to be functioning any better than the ones who only have a few. However, the amount of suffering they would go through to wean them off the pills might precipitate a stroke or heart-attack, so the doctor's are hesitant to make any changes. And I can't blame them. I wouldn't want to deal with an angry family, either.

The key, I think, is to be aware of this and control it while you're still relatively healthy. If you let the doctor's prescribe you a pill for every little thing, you're going to find yourself taking more pills than you know what to do with. No wonder folks get put in nursing homes because they can't remember to take their pills. If you had that many prescriptions, you couldn't remember when to take them all, either.

And should we talk about cost? I'll bet the street-value on some of these medications would be enough to fund a small family for six months. No wonder folks have to get government help to pay for their meds.

Ultimately, we're responsible for our health. Better living through chemistry is not the answer unless you have a money-tree out back somewhere. If you have a loved one who's on multiple medications, it wouldn't hurt to have their primary care doctor review their meds and slowly make changes to reduce the number of pills they're taking.

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