Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Early in my caregiving journey, it was clear that I was unprepared to take on the role. There was so much I didn’t know that would have helped as I made important decisions.
Dan had dementia, but the three reminders I am referring to can impact anyone with health conditions. They are overmedication, hospital stays, and anesthesia. You can click on the links below to read his story as I came to understand it.
Let’s take a brief look at them.
According to the non-profit Massachusetts think tank, The Lown Institute,
The United States is in the grips of an unseen epidemic of harm from the excessive prescribing of medications. If nothing changes current practices, medication overload will contribute to the premature deaths of 150,000 older Americans over the next decade and reduce the quality of life for millions more.
Undeniably drugs save lives, but few prescription medications are free of risks or side effects. The more a person takes simultaneously, the greater the chance of adverse interactions and potentially devastating side effects.
Another concern for older patients is that the aging brain is more vulnerable to anesthesia - the medication that often prevents you from feeling pain during surgery. Two anesthesia-related surgery risks are more common in older people.
Postoperative delirium is a temporary condition that causes patients to be confused, disoriented, unaware of their surroundings, and have problems with memory and attention.
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) - is a more severe condition that can lead to long-term memory loss and make learning, concentrating, and thinking difficult.
Hospital risks are at an all-time high; even a short stay can be fraught with medical errors, medication mistakes, falls, infectious diseases, and other life-threatening events for older adults in the hospital.
Did you know that
Drug companies may experience shortages for various reasons.
Financial payments to US physicians from the drug industry are relatively common.
The average time a doctor spends with a patient is about 15 minutes.
Drugs lose effectiveness after extended use, and a person will need a more potent dose or stronger drugs to ease the problem.
Pharmaceutical companies played a significant role in the opioid crisis, according to the AMA Journal of Ethics.
While, there’s definitely a need for hospital stays, medication, and anesthesia for loved ones, if you are providing care you may want to
Know their meds, why doctors prescribe them, and if necessary.
Learn about side effects, reactions when combined with other drugs, and rebound effects.
Maintain an up-to-date list of all the person’s medications, including OTC drugs and supplements.
There are numerous free websites and information online. A couple I found were
I knew about the possible side effects of taking and mixing drugs but had no idea that hospital stays and anesthesia could be problematic - especially for an older adult.
I didn’t like what I observed when Dan was in the hospital, but I didn’t know enough to ask the necessary questions. The outcome may have been the same, but maybe, I would have been a better advocate and had greater peace of mind.
Is Aging in Place The Impossible Dream -”But are we kidding ourselves? Is “aging in place,” as it’s technically known, really possible?”
Words That Age You Faster - “Whether you write them or speak them - words have energy. They impact anyone who sees or hears them.”
How to Reduce Cognitive Decline After Surgery - I recently read this story - and while I am not recommending or suggesting that you get a free subscription to the newsletter, what you can read highlights the potential issue.
After Dan’s experience, the first thing I checked when the doctor recommended cataract surgery was about anesthesia. I asked if I had to have it - and she said no - they would be monitoring my blood pressure, and if it rose, then they would. It wasn’t necessary - it just eased the fears of some patients. I had no anesthesia with that particular surgery and there was no pain.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
If you want to contribute to my work, consider donating to the Alzheimers Association. This link takes you to their website. The choice is yours.