Currently viewing the tag: "polypharmacy"

drug mishaps elderlyA client of mine told me today how he monitors and manages the large number of meds his partner is on. Drugs for blood pressure, HIV, an organ transplant, “high” cholesterol, and a bevy of miscellaneous medications is a lot for any individual to keep a handle on, and unfortunately relying on one’s physician to do so is like putting one’s faith in the government. In fact, it was just this topic—how the partner’s doctor nearly screwed up by ordering potassium when the patient’s potassium was already high—that got us talking about managing one’s meds. My client was infuriated because the doctor was making assumptions regarding an episode of dizziness instead of taking the necessary tests—odd in a culture of diagnostic over-testing, but really, as with any profession, anything can happen.

While I accept the above story with a grain of salt, as I understand that people color facts as they wish the story to be taken; however, I still believe it is wise practice to be the one in control one’s medication schedule, or that of one’s loved ones. So my client provided me with a sample spread sheet he uses that I loved so much I want to share it with you. You can print the picture below, or the link will take you to a downloadable document. You could also just type out your own, using the provided document as a sample.

Sample Drugs List Layout

While I think the document my client put together is outstanding, I do think one column could be added, and that would be adverse drug reactions. My client pointed out that pharmacies keep an eye out for that, I still think taking personal inventory on the matter is wisdom. It does act as a reminder to keep all of one’s prescriptions with the same pharmacy.

Also notice that my client not only lists the medication, but dosages and times of ingestion. This is another way one can help prevent over-ingestion, and thus overdosing. Creating a few more columns with the days of the week, and using hash marks to signify when each drug was taken, or some similar method would also be helpful.

Yes taking medications, particularly loads of them, requires discipline and responsibility. That’s the way it should be. Be smart and use this chart to take control of your or your loved one’s medication schedule. The average American senior is on a litany of drugs, and drug mishaps are all too common. By organizing one’s drug schedule with a system such as this, it is one more step toward safety and accident prevention.

moneyMost people believe that money is the answer to everything. There is even a joke that, “Money may not buy happiness, but it’s better to cry in a Lamborghini than on a bicycle.” Har har har…yeah, ‘cept it ain’t necessarily true. While surveys and studies can be found to support any position, a recent Money Magazine survey (Sept 2014) showed that “what makes retirees happiest,” isn’t money, but health. Yes health! Duh! And that is what this post is about: How having money may actually be a hindrance to good health. But not for you, because you read this blog, and you take the information, assimilate it and act accordingly. Right, read on:

Retirees Happiness (Copy)This post came to my attention while discussing my cousin’s employer with my mom. Turns out the employer is an elderly man who sits on the board of a major tech company. He’s financially loaded, and he also spends much of his non-working time visiting doctors. He is on a multitude of medications—for cholesterol, for high blood pressure, for bipolar, for sleep disturbances, and on and on. We know this because my cousin is this man’s personal assistant. As I listened to this story I couldn’t help but think how this man, so representative of the average American senior with regard to his health care, was on this polypharmacy path for one simple reason: He could afford to be.

Then it got me thinking about our new “universal health” system, which essentially promotes the lifestyle I have just described. Yes it does. The premise was that everybody deserves as much modern medicine as they need. Uh huh… Let this man’s story illustrate what we become when we rely on the medical industry to guide our health decisions.

seniors medsWait Campos! That’s unfair: We do not know this man’s particular circumstances. Okay, true, but we do know a few things. As of 2012, 65 percent  of American seniors were on three or more prescription drugs, 36.7 percent were on five or more prescription drugs. We also know that many conditions today, which receive a large proportion of annual prescriptions, are lifestyle related. Take last year’s (2013-2014) most prescribed medications for instance, four of ten were for conditions that can be significantly improved (or prevented) with the proper lifestyle modifications (and I would argue that three others could be avoided with “alternative” approaches, mostly paradigm shifts). Cholesterol lowering, heartburn, blood pressure lowering, and diabetes—all preventable AND fixable with proper lifestyle modifications.

But is that the road most westerners choose? No! For whatever reasons—be it looking for easy answers, rationalizing, or the shared doctor-patient belief that only meds are truly viable—the majority of Americans (and our European and now Asian counterparts) choose the polypharmacy route over caring for their health, and I am certain that is a disease of modern affluence. We run to medical care because we can! Yes it’s the easier answer to control our dysfunctions rather than correct them through lifestyle modifications. So much easier to take a pill then walk around the block every day, pump iron, lay off the sugar, and so forth. And we have been conditioned to believe that is the only way to do it. It doesn’t matter how much information comes out extolling healthy behaviors: The average westerner runs to his or her doctor for a medical fix first—that’s what the data shows.

Low Cost HealthI actually believe that the so-called have-nots are in a better position health-wise, as they can take their health into their own hands from an early age. What we do habitually is what matters most, and so focusing on healthy behaviors soon and often will not only be best for your current health, but also will train you to look to yourself when health challenges arise. Heck yes, medical care is necessary in many circumstances; but understand that our reliance on medicating fixable conditions is deeply ingrained into your psyche by years of observation and acceptance. Evidence of lifestyle modification improving conditions like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol (if that’s even an accurate diagnosis as it is doled out today), high blood pressure and many gastrointestinal issues (like gastric reflux) abound. You do not have to be the victim of historical tradition—frankly it’s foolish.

Don’t let your ability to indulge in medical care be the definitive factor in how you approach your health. Use our incredible medical system for crisis care, and you take care of the lifestyle part. Believe me when I say that you can neither buy happiness nor health. I would venture to bet that my cousin’s employer would trade his wealth any day for a return of his health. Heck I guess he is in a way now anyhow. What a crazy world we live in.

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