Over 80 and over medicated!

It makes my blood boil. I see it time and time again.

Fluid retention and high blood pressure. Two common scourges of old age.

Of course both these conditions need regulating. Drugs have their place.

However, once people are over eighty, their doctors seem to overlook the fact that octogenarian’s health can change quite rapidly. Just as the first ten years of life show enormous physiological changes, so do eighty to ninety year olds.

One man was taking ‘water tablets’ as they are commonly known. He needed them. The dose was correct at the time they were prescribed. When I arrived three months later he was passing out, each morning after his bath. Water too hot you say? If only it was that simple. He was also, it was discovered later, having fits. Reason? Dehydrated. His water pills were working far too well. He needed less…now.

A change to his medication was all that was needed to change a man in his nineties who struggled against his medication, to stay upright and awake.

Why oh why is medication not monitored more frequently when people reach this difficult age?

Is it lack of funds, time or merely indifference?

Another client was taking blood pressure medication. He had been for some time. The dosage had been reduced some months earlier. But when he started clutching his head saying that the room was ‘rushing past him’, over a period of three weeks, something had to be done.

Blood pressure monitor to the fore. At 132/76 when sitting was okay but as soon as he stood up his bp dropped to 107/82. This is too low. This is also a common problem with elderly people.

Are you sitting comfortably? Yep. Excellent. Want to stand up and move forwards? Yes, again.

Now here lies a large part of the problem. Leaping up out of a chair will often send your blood pressure dropping like a stone. If your blood pressure is too low, you will feel wobbly. Fact.

Try getting a previously very active pensioner to get up slowly…Good luck. Even when given the reasons for doing so, they still insist on putting themselves at risk for the sake of a few seconds.

Look, we know time is running out but…

So, after the GP is alerted to his patient’s dilemma. He is told to stop his bp medication.

Result? No more funny turns. One week on and normal service has been resumed.

So, please, please, please. If you or your friends/family are experiencing difficulties and are taking medication of any kind, don’t assume that what was right for you three months ago is still okay now.

I even had to deal with one ‘concerned friend’ who insisted that the doctor’s prescription couldn’t possibly be wrong. Yeah, right.

I tried another tack. She was of the ‘doctors are small gods’ brigade.

Years ago I took the pill. There wouldn’t be much point in me taking it now, would there?

Naturally, she threw her arms up and proclaimed this to be different.

No it’s not I countered. I was fertile then. I’m not now.

I think the penny dropped.





One Response to “Over 80 and over medicated!”

  1. JaneneReichertMurphy

    Very interesting, Helen, and such a good point. It never dawned on me that an elderly person’s needs can change so quickly. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks!


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