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I realize my opinion on this situation is different than a lot of folks’.

Keep that in mind as you read this.  I’m aware that someone’s going to call me some sort of insensitive monster.

A woman’s 66-year-old mother is confused, uncoordinated, and is slurring her words.  They take her to the ER, then a neurologist, where she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Turns out, she’s just over-medicated.

(as an aside, in looking up things for this post, I came across one of the tests for seeing if someone might be suffering from Alzheimer’s – seeing if they can “count backward from 100 by 7s”.  *I* can’t even do that on demand!  How is that an accurate gauge?)

I’m no doctor, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually come on a bit more gradually, don’t they?

And the symptoms of this old woman were CLASSIC overdose symptoms…just because she’s old, do they automatically discount that?

That’s a little sickening in and of itself.

Another thing:  there are thousands of “senior citizens” who are on a metric ton of medication for various things…and some of those medications are to treat the side effects of their original medications.  This, to me, is completely counter-productive.

I’ve made mention here before of my viewpoint regarding certain advances in medicine:  sometimes folks just need to die.  I’m not saying everyone who gets cancer just needs to suck it up, write their living will, and wave bye-bye to their family, but in some cases, the effort just isn’t worth the outcome (yes, I realize my definition of “worth” is different – save your fingers if you’re going to type about family values and stuff).

If you’re old, and you have horrible blood pressure and various other problems that are causing you to have to be on 20 pills a day, taken at different times a day, and you’re STILL house-bound because of the side-effects, can you really say that the pills are making any positive difference in your life?  It would drive me nuts to not at least have the ability to get out of the house if I wanted to.  I can’t imagine I’m alone in that.

But somewhere along the line, it became the norm for older people to just be put on all those pills to make sure they don’t die – when the life they’re left with afterward isn’t much better than what they had before, as a result of side-effects and other issues.

Then, when other problems crop up, it’s blamed on some other disease – doubtless one that will have to be treated with more pills.

Frankly, the correlation between this and how folks with certain mental illnesses are treated pisses me off.

And my point may have been lost in all of this, because there’s a lot going on over here today, but I’ll close with the same opinion of this over-medication-of-seniors situation as I said about breastfeeding for a good length of time:  just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

If a doc tells me at any point that I can stay alive if I just agree to take dozens of pills, and I’m able to verify through other sources that what he/she is telling me is, in fact, true (that I will die, anyway, if I’m not on all sorts of medication), I will quietly accept the pills, then go home and OD on them after making sure my will is squared away, and anything truly embarrassing has been dumped somewhere far from my home.  Because, really, at that point, I’m just taking up space.

This has not a whole lot to do with that old woman in the article except that this is becoming what I see as a disturbing trend – this “take a pill to fix it” mentality, coupled with ill treatment of the folks who are receiving the “drug therapy”.  It just makes me sick.

5 comments to I realize my opinion on this situation is different than a lot of folks’.

  • ATLien

    I’ve been paying attention to all the ads for maedications that come on tv now, and well over half the time when they explain the side-effects I think, “damn. I’d rather live with the problem than the side-effects”. I take a couple of meds for things, and the only problem i get is dry mouth; sometimes it’s so bad i can barely speak.

  • James Nelson

    I work in the medical field and we deal with many chronically ill elderly people. We try to keep track of their medications and have them bring in all their pill bottles periodically. They will bring in literally bags of meds with them. There is no way to tell how much of their problems are caused by the meds, because they take so many different ones.

  • Squeaky Wheel

    James – That, to me, is a problem. I appreciate that you guys try to keep track, but at what point do you just give up? And at what point is it doing them more harm to be taking all that medication (for several reasons, not the least which is what you just mentioned – the problem with being able to even tell where their problems are coming from) than good? Obviously, as I pointed out, I’m not doctor, and I don’t have an answer, but as I said, that seems to me like a system that needs a bit of a once-over.

  • sidhe_demon

    i so agree with this post.

  • Sorry, late to the party. I completely agree with you.

    My grandma is such a case right now. The problem is that it starts with one kind of pills. Then, a few months later, when you’re already used to them, you get another kind. And so on. Like a frog sitting in water that’s slowly heated until he boils.

    Also, by the time the elderly person is ready to stop taking all the pills and let nature take its course, the family will likely veto that. If my grandma tried that, my dad would probably make her take the pills – by any means necessary.