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Posts Tagged ‘gerontology’

My gerontologist has me taking generic Zocor daily to help control my cholesterol. Having obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I’m very good at taking the drug regularly. I have a seven-day pillbox that helps me remember to take the medicine as directed. But even I’m not perfect.  

A few days before my prescription ran out, I called the pharmacy for a refill. The prescription had become outdated, so the pharmacy had to contact my physician’s office for the refill. No problem. I had contacted the pharmacy several days before my pill bottle would be empty. I had four days to get the medication. 

Everything went perfectly well. The pharmacist contacted the doctor, the doctor refilled the medication, and the pharmacist prepared the prescription. Then I forgot to pick it up. I missed about three days before I realized my error.  

OK, so I missed three days. Fortunately, this isn’t the kind of medication for which missing doses can mean life or death (like HIV drug treatments or immunosuppressive drugs in someone who had an organ transplant). I rarely miss doses, realizing that if I want the drug to work, I probably need to take it.  

If a patient isn’t taking the drug exactly as directed, it isn’t the end of the world. Just be honest with your doctor about it. It’s hard enough to make a treatment plan when the doctor knows what the patient is doing. It’s that much harder when the doctor doesn’t know. 

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My gerontologist read my book Great Medical Care, giving the book a good review. (The book is available online at http://www.lulu.com/product/e-book/great-medical-care-the-handbook-for-making-your-visit-to-the-doctor-better/6081955). She offered several important suggestions for enhancing the care of the elderly, in particular recognizing their cognitive, visual, hearing and mobility limitations.

Giving older patients written, rather than just verbal, instructions is essential. Getting the patient’s attention with a touch and minimizing auditory distractions can help with hearing issues. Care should be taken not to allow mobility limitations from interfering with the performance of a comprehensive physical examination. In addition, the office should provide easy, quick access to toilet facilities to avoid episodes of incontinence.

Her suggestions are practical and important for all physicians.

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