Psycho-Babble Medication | about biological treatments | Framed
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Re: Question for the audience ...

Posted by allison on October 21, 1999, at 17:40:20

In reply to Re: Question for the audience ..., posted by Noa on October 19, 1999, at 20:12:14

> Yes, Bob. That is why good care for the elderly includes review of treatment by a multidisciplinary panel that includes at least an MD, nurse, pharmacist, etc.

Right. Excellent point. Sometimes easier said than done.

My mom had impaired liver function due to years of drinking in an effort to deal with years of depression.

She never did stop drinking, which of course made everything worse. But I also learned toward the end of her life that even mineral deficiencies could send her to the hospital in an instant. I remember a couple of years ago friends found her trying to answer the telephone with a kleenex box. My cousin thought she was drunk and read her the riot act, but it turned out that she hadn't been drinking. She had a magnesium/potassium deficiency. I lived 2.5 hours away, and when I got to the hospital found her almost unable to speak. It was one of the saddest moments of my life seeing her so debilitated.

It's so easy for doctors just to prescribe drugs and never really follow up. My mom always had a reason not to relate to any of the rehab programs she ended up in. A couple of years ago, she finally found a psychologist she could talk to (my empty wish is that she had met him 10 years ago). He got her MD to prescribe an AD. First Zoloft, then Paxil. She was also on tamoxifen for breast cancer, and a diuretic to help the fluids get out, and I can't remember what else. I am convinced the AD script was an overdose for her (normal for another, but toxic to someone whose liver is unable to get rid of the chemicals in a timely way). She had hand tremors and complained to me that she had begun to feel unsteady on her feet and actually fell a couple of times (she didn't normally fall when she was drunk). Just into ADs myself, I had some experience in at least knowing that not every AD works with every person and one has to try them on like shoes to find the right fit. I strongly suggested to her that she see her doc about lowering the dose or getting another kind. However, before she could she fell while walking and hit her head on a sidewalk curb. About two days later she was dead, either from a subdural hematoma, a blood clot, internal hemhorraging, whatever -- her doc and I decided that it really didn't matter so we didn't have an autopsy and he listed complications from alcoholism as the cause of death, which was essentially true. Certainly her days were numbered, but her death was not imminent or expected. But I do think if her AD and other meds had been regulated more closely keeping the alcoholism in mind, she might have lived past 62.

From everything I've gleaned from various media (nothing indepth), it seems that not only is medicine woefully unaware of the effects of drugs and treatments on women (because until recently most trials were done only on men), but general knowledge on the effects on the elderly is sorely lacking -- not a comfort as the median age of the entire US population is going up. I hope that by the time I'm her age (if I make it that long), they'll have more and better answers.




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