Elderly Parent Care – A Hidden Cause of Increased Long Term Care Costs

Improper use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is a significant and growing issue among seniors. Nearly 50 percent of all adverse medical effects happen to people over the age of 60. Sometimes the problem comes from the medical community. Other times, it’s our parents themselves.

It’s no secret that as age increases, so do chronic health conditions. Because medicine has become so specialized, it’s common for elderly parents to have a number of doctors: a cardiologist for the heart, an electro-cardiologist for their pacemakers, a rheumatologist for arthritis, an allergist for gluten intolerance, an ophthalmologist for macular degeneration, an oncologist for cancer, and a general practitioner for their general medical needs.

You would like to think the primary care physician acts in the role of a gatekeeper keeping an accurate and up-to-date record of all your parents’ medications. For a number of reasons, this doesn’t happen. Doctors many times won’t ask what other medications are being taken. Seniors typically don’t volunteer what other doctors have prescribed, either.

It is also common for some doctors to renew prescriptions even when there is no longer a need for them. Others prescribe medications to counteract symptoms which may actually be medication-related. Because of changes in metabolism and organ function that occur as we age, the way our body processes drugs changes. The older we get, the less our body can tolerate drugs. That’s why it is important for aging parents to take medications properly. The problem is millions of seniors fail to take their medications as prescribed or they simply quit taking them altogether. It’s a big problem, too. The consequences can result in hospitalization or, even worse, end in death.

Elder Fact

Adverse drug reaction and non-compliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly.

-Source: American Society of Consulting Pharmacists

A study reported in a July 2007 Associated Press article found about half of the patients with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or asthma skip doses or otherwise muddle up their medication. Your mom may not start taking the drug because she doesn’t understand how or when to take it. Or, she may simply forget to take it. Pain in her hands from arthritis can keep her from opening the medicine bottles and that can prevent proper medication usage, too. Or she may simply not be able to read the label!

She may start feeling better and simply toss the rest of the bottle, thinking she doesn’t need it. According to the Assoicated Press story, poor medication management can add an extra $2,000 per year for each patient in extra doctor visits alone. Medication mismanagement is also responsible for 40 percent of nursing home admissions. Medication mismanagement is a hidden reason for hospital and nursing home admissions. Taking medications correctly is a simple way to help elderly parents lower their cost of care while eliminating unnecessary pain and suffering.

Tips to Help New Parents Care for Their Baby

Being a new parent is a wonderful time in your life, but also one that is full of questions. You will find that no matter what you ask, you will get several different opinions from doctors, friends, and family members. Sometimes this advice is well received, and other times it is overwhelming. Most new parents second guess their own decisions at times. That is normal. Remember that you know your baby better than anyone else. Each child is unique, so what works well for someone else many not work well for you and your child.

It is very important that you remain calm while caring for your new baby. They can sense other people’s feelings. If you are tense and nervous they will feel it and react to it. A baby thrives in an environment that is safe and secure. You can help your baby adapt to its new environment by talking soothingly and by establishing a regular daily routine.

Eating is a very essential part of a baby’s life. You and your partner should make the decision together about how the baby will be fed. Some parents prefer breastfeeding while others are comfortable using a bottle and formula. Make sure the nutrients your baby is getting agree with their system. You may have to try various formulas to find one that your baby is able to digest comfortably.

Safety is very important with a newborn. Never leave them unattended no matter how small they are. A baby can learn to turn over or wiggle to the edge of a bed before you know it. Keep the home free of clutter as well so that you don’t run the risk of tripping while your baby is in your arms.