Be a Better Caregiver: Learn More About Your Loved Ones' Prescriptions

Jacqueline Marcell Health Guide
  • People often tell me every detail of their struggles with a loved one's odd behaviors and symptoms, but when I ask what medications are being taken, I most often get a blank stare and an embarrassed stutter. "Ummm, well, I don't know them all. We just give her whatever the doctor says."

     

    One of the biggest things you can do as an advocate for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease is to become very familiar with all of their prescribed medications and the over-the-counter supplements and herbs. The easiest way is to look them up online is at http://www.medlineplus.com/ (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html). Simply print each one out, study what they do, and become familiar with the side effects.

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    Then, by keeping a detailed daily record of your loved one's symptoms and behaviors, you will be able to converse with the doctor at a higher level and understand more about the fine-tuning of the meds and dosages.

     

    I learned all this the hard way while I was taking care of my own parents, who both had early Alzheimers that wasn't properly diagnosed for over a year. After so many doctors' trial and error with medication, I decided to become an amateur pharmacologist on my own. What an eye-opener!

     

    Finally, I got my parents to the right doctors (geriatric dementia specialists) and was able to discuss the medications, dosages, and report subtle symptoms I noticed. This helped the doctors balance my parents' complex brain chemistries for the beginning of the dementia, the (often-present) depression, and my father's intermittent and explosive aggression. Only then was I able to implement behavioral techniques which helped me cope better with the day-to-day struggles as a caregiver.

     

    You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at ElderRage.com.

     

Published On: August 10, 2007