Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pills, Glorious Pills

We all have to take 'em sometimes. Most of us don't like 'em, but we're sure glad there are all kinds of medications available to us when we need them.
And so it goes for most seniors as well. It seems the older we get, the more pills we have to take. It's kind of a given since in order to keep well and to live longer our bodies need assistance. If we all exercised and ate right, certainly we could avoid some of the conditions that make it necessary to take as many medications as we do, but lets be honest, many of us don't for any number of reasons.
Regrets and good intentions aside, if we need meds, then it's important to take them, on time and in the proper dosages. It is also important to keep regular contact with the doctor prescribing them.
I'm the 'pill sorter' for Nana and Grampa George. They each have a pill case, labelled and put aside in a safe place the cats can't get to, that gets refilled regularly, as required. Its an important part of their daily lives to ensure that they take the right pills at the right time in the right quantity. And all of this changes constantly.
Grampa George figured that once he had his defibrillator implanted he'd be cured of all that ailed him, fit as a fiddle. He also figured he could toss the many pills he'd been taking, never to have to swallow another one in his life. It's been tough to convince him that there is no way to fix what fifty years of smoking and other general wear and tear on the body has done to him. He still needs all of his pills, some in lower dosages, since his heart does have some assistance now, and some new ones since we now know how seriously damaged his prostate is, from lack of proper diagnosis and medication. He still has high cholesterol, still needs his blood thinned to prevent stroke and/or heart attack, water pills to keep his lungs (and the rest of him) clear as well as anti-anxiety medication that lets him sleep nights and remain calm days when he worries too much about how sick he really is.
On good days, he realizes that it's a small thing to take a few pills when those are what's keeping him reasonably active and enjoying life. He's not in pain, can still walk and talk, enjoy a good meal, share a few jokes and laugh a little.
Nana takes her share of pills too, mostly to keep her blood pressure steady and to manage the pain of arthritis that's been plaguing her for a long time. She's on stronger pain meds lately since we discovered she has a tear in a muscle in her shoulder that could have come from something as simple as stretching to reach for a pen she'd dropped. While the new meds have caused her some constipation (not unusual for these types of medications), her stomach and appetite have not been affected (also not unusual for a patient to experience nausea and/or vomiting). The pain is a little better but still there and so next in line is physiotherapy since at her age surgery is not recommended as it would likely bring with it other serious complications. We're also diligently applying a new topical pain medication (absorbed by the skin) four times a day, since every little bit (hopefully) helps.
Pills: a big part of daily life here at the home of the Carefree Caregiver, and I'm sure glad we have 'em to help out.

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