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Old age and medications
Old 04-20-2012, 05:07 PM   #1
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Old age and medications

Not exactly an early retirement issue, but some food for thought to tuck away in the back of your mind.

When my mother reached 90 years of age, she was on two or three different prescription medications. One day she looked at me and said "Don't you think I should be able to stop taking these pills now that I'm 90?"

I was momentarily taken aback, but then I realized that she was right. I replied that anyone who reaches that age should be able to do whatever the hell they want, including eating whatever they like and cutting out the annoying pills. That seemed to please her.

She told me not to say anything to her doctor, so I kept it quiet and she just tossed the pills in the garbage every month. They were all generic, so Medicare only wasted a few bucks. Her doctor never caught on, and confided privately to me that Mom was a really good patient who took care of herself.

She died recently at the age of 96, so those last six years were happier for her and no harm was done.

I mentioned this story to one of my best friends, and he told me his own story.

His mother had made a very similar comment a while back, and his reaction was the same as mine. Her pills go in the trash. The interesting thing is that after she stopped taking her meds, all her blood numbers improved noticeably. Her doctor is very happy that his prescriptions seem to be exactly right for her.

She says she feels better than she has in years. since she quit taking the pills. She is now 101 and still going strong.

Obviously, I'm not saying this as advice or recommendation, or even suggestion, but I believe that when we reach a certain age we ought to be masters of our own destiny.
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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Reminds me of my MIL who passed away 2 years ago, she was given 2-3 months to live with no chance of doing much better (stage 4 pancreatic cancer), and almost immediately declared "I am not going to bother flossing anymore". She only made it 6 weeks.
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:36 PM   #3
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braumeister, not sure what is "right", but I certainly enjoy your story and fully embrace your conclusion.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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My Mom still takes her medications . She is 95 but she hands back any diagnostic test requests her Physician hands her. No more Mammogram and definetely no more Colonoscopy !
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:29 PM   #5
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If you're enjoying life take your pills! When my Dad was past eighty, he told all he was ready to go, why? All his friends were gone. I'm really enjoying life and take 6 pills a day.......as a result my Doc, and a good friend, tells me that I'll live years longer because of all my pills. Now, if you're 90 and ready to go, fine. But, pills help and since I really love my life, I take them.....every day. Am I 90? Nope, but I want to live to 90.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:05 AM   #6
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Sorry, but I do not seem to "get" this thread at all. Is it about stopping medication because one is very old and ready to die?

Or is it about unpleasant side-effects that one is no longer willing to tolerate (as with Art Buchwald, who deliberately quit dialysis)?

Or What? ::

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Old 04-21-2012, 06:31 AM   #7
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I think this thread is about freedom of choice at a certain age, where you should not have to worry about what anyone thinks. I agree with the thread.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:57 AM   #8
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Well, for my opinion on medication and the elderly, I think there's a lot of over medication going on. We care for MIL and she's one who refuses to accept that at 86 she should have any problems, so always is pushing doctors for the magic pill. Usually it's for her tremors. At one point we were sure she was Alzheimers, hallucinations and not knowing her own daughter. Changed Dr and weaned her off most of the neurologicals. Like she was 10 years ago, and not much increase in the tremors.

Every person of diminished abilities needs an advocate...and not the Dr. We joke that the MIL is our science project, we keep records of falls, when meds are changed, and then connect the dots. Yesterday she asked where were the new pills they prescribed a month or two ago; informed her we stopped them after she fell a few times and she seemed disoriented. She seemed a little baffled by that but was OK.

I just think someone needs to apply critical thinking to just why all the meds, are they really doing what they are supposed to, and are any side effects worth it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:32 AM   #9
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Braumeister, do you remember how many different meds she was taking and what they were for?

My father is 89 and I think he takes way too many pills but I wouldn't want him to stop taking any of them without his doctor's knowledge.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:12 AM   #10
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It's a different view of one who is "looking after" an elderly "folk", vs being elderly and seeing what the med may do (I agree that all meds may not necessarily be needed).

As a T2 diabetic (due to AO exposure in Nam) and also being monitored by a separate heart care group, I'm currently on three meds.

My BT's have shown that I'm better off with the meds, than without (FWIW).

If I'm able to live a much longer life than I have been "granted", I would consider stopping the meds. Not so much that I disagree with them, but I would forget to take them (as is my habit, today).

However, I doubt if I would consider such personal advice until I reach the age of 90 (if ever)...

BTW, I'm attempting to live longer for the benefit of DW and (disabled) son. As for myself? I care less if I would leave this "mortal coil" in the next few seconds...
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:21 AM   #11
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Looking after my parents care was an education. When my Mom was in a nursing home @ about 87 we went to her physician and reviewed her medications. We agreed that tamoxifen was no longer necessary and alendronate a swallowing risk so both were stopped, kept her Parkinson's medication. The elderly metabolize medications differently than their juniors so even dosages may change.

I believe that many seniors are taking too many pills, in part the result of seeing different physicians over the years. Not only can this make life complicated but they may not be helpful. Perhaps it is the new Federal health care statute coming on line but my current health care providers are all handing me the list of medications they think I am taking (including over the counter) to verify. I think this is great!! They are also implementing a new informatics system, maybe in the future this system can be utilized to flag health care issues.

Gotta run and take that pill.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:26 AM   #12
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Well, I'm all for not worrying about what anyone thinks about anything, once you are an adult, and as long as you harm no one; but I still don't get the point of going off meds that you need. Guess I must be missing something...oh well.


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I think this thread is about freedom of choice at a certain age, where you should not have to worry about what anyone thinks. I agree with the thread.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:43 AM   #13
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I think this thread is more about going off or refusing meds of questionable need after a certain age . My Mom's physician wanted her to take a statin for borderline high cholesterol . She refused and frankly I think she was right to do so . It would have done nothing to enhance her quality of life at 95 .
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:43 AM   #14
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This is a little different, I suspect, than just stopping medication just because you have reached a certain age. Advocacy for the impaired elderly is a very serious lack in our society, and I have no notion of a solution. You can't go back and have the good kids you didn't have when you were young.

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Originally Posted by H2ODude View Post

Every person of diminished abilities needs an advocate...and not the Dr. We joke that the MIL is our science project, we keep records of falls, when meds are changed, and then connect the dots. Yesterday she asked where were the new pills they prescribed a month or two ago; informed her we stopped them after she fell a few times and she seemed disoriented. She seemed a little baffled by that but was OK.

I just think someone needs to apply critical thinking to just why all the meds, are they really doing what they are supposed to, and are any side effects worth it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:46 AM   #15
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I totally agree. I don't blame the Dr., though. What if she did want to be treated, and the Dr. said, "Nah, you're too old, what's the use?"

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I think this thread is more about going off or refusing meds of questionable need after a certain age . My Mom's physician wanted her to take a statin for borderline high cholesterol . She refused and frankly I think she was right to do so . It would have done nothing to enhance her quality of life at 95 .
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:52 AM   #16
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We have to use some common sense even in medicine. I think many doctors, through no fault of their own, are fearful of legal problems they may have if they don't recommend another pill, procedure or test. I don't blame them.

When my mother was in her late 80's she started slipping out of her room at night for a shot of Southern Comfort. She was having trouble sleeping. Some memberts of the family were concerned she was becoming an alchoholic. We talked to a professional home-care nurse who asked us "Is this about her or is this just bothering you. She's 88." We got the point.

She kept taking her blood pressure meds. I am certain they helped keep her alive and kicking into her 80's. But, she never gave up caffein. I can't see where that hurt.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:53 AM   #17
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There are needed medications. As I mentioned in another thread a physician suspended a medication prescribed by another (warfarin) and shortly after my classmate had a stroke.

The real issue is what medications does one need at advanced age. I am seeing more and more physicians having the need discussion and thinking about medication risks.

Scripts now expire after a year, I suspect to cause a physician and patient to discuss its use. There is no triger in the MD's office that flags the fact that a patient's script has expired but the patient hasn't contacted him/her. The MD may assume that another health care provider has picked up the ball. Coordination of care is one of the US major health care/expense issues.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:09 AM   #18
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Could be the shots kept her alive longer. Certainly being able to sleep is important to health.

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When my mother was in her late 80's she started slipping out of her room at night for a shot of Southern Comfort. She was having trouble sleeping. Some memberts of the family were concerned she was becoming an alchoholic. We talked to a professional home-care nurse who asked us "Is this about her or is this just bothering you. She's 88." We got the point.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:55 AM   #19
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When my mother was in her late 80's she started slipping out of her room at night for a shot of Southern Comfort. She was having trouble sleeping. Some memberts of the family were concerned she was becoming an alchoholic.
My DW and I have this issue on going with her DA. How should her "sleep just doesn't come" issues be dealt with?
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:38 PM   #20
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I am no physician but I wonder if DA is getting enough physical activity.

A slight tangent here but because pneumonia is a common disease in seniors have yours received the pneumonia vaccine?
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