I need to come down from yesterday’s mad Republican rant so let’s do something mundane but important today.
As reported yesterday in The New Old Age blog at The New York Times, a study was conducted with 464 Chicago-area adults between the ages of 55 and 74 asking how they would take seven medications.
”About a third didn’t think to take two of the drugs together, even though the instructions on their labels were identical. When one drug was supposed to be taken with food and water and another carried no such instructions, half the study participants didn’t plan to take them at the same time, though they could have.
“And two-thirds wouldn’t take pills together if one label specified ‘twice daily’ and the other said ‘every 12 hours,’ though those phrases mean the same thing.”
My initial thought was to wonder if they had checked IQs of the study subjects before accepting them. Then I recalled that until a year or so ago, I had taken two of the three supplements I use in the early morning and saved the third for later with breakfast even though I had several times read the label that states it is not necessary to take it with food.
Returning to earth…
I was surprised to learn that “the average adult over age 55 juggles six to eight medications daily” and dosage is a jungle of confusing instructions.
According to the researcher, Dr. Michael Wolf, who studies medication safety at Northwestern University,
“A review of thousands of prescriptions revealed, for instance, that pharmacists use literally dozens of different phrases that all mean: Take one tablet each day.”
Of course, this results in missed and/or double or triple dosages affecting the health of elders (or anyone younger too). One solution, according to Wolf, is to standardize the language of dosage instructions
“…to four times of day: morning meds, noon meds, evening meds, bedtime meds.”
Although this idea has been floating around for several years, a big problem is that pharmacists answer to 50 different state regulators who each have their own rules. Standardization bills are pending in two states, reports The Times, but that is no more than a toe in the water.
Like other physicians, Dr. Wolf suggests people regularly review their medications with their physicians, particularly when more than one doctor are doing the prescribing. Further, he has a prescription himself for patients. Talk to your physician and
”…ask for help in simplifying our schedules. His suggested script: ‘Help me reduce the number of times I have to take these medications, so that over months and years, it doesn’t become a drag.’”
How do you organize your prescriptions or help your parents with theirs?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: My Name is Marcia and I’m an Internet Addict