Mom Meddles With Meds

What would make someone modify their medication despite doctor’s orders? Mom seems to be a master at this.

I’m sure other seniors (and their caretakers) are going through this. My mom’s high blood pressure pills are no longer being manufactured so her doctor prescribed another medication plus a separate diuretic.  So Mom takes the diuretic, is up several times during the night to go to the bathroom, and decides the medicine is too much.

I call the doctor’s office, we set up an appointment, and he instructs her to take the diuretic for the remainder of the week until we come to see him. She tells me she’s not going to take it. I insist, reminding her that the last time she didn’t take a diuretic, her ankles blew up like sausages and her blood pressure shot up to scary levels.

“Oh yeah, I remember that. I don’t want that to happen again,” she tells me. I believe we have agreement. What she doesn’t tell me is that she decides on her own to cut the CAPSULE in half and take what she wants. Of course, I learn this in the doctor’s office when she tells the nurse what she’s been doing. (Said nurse gave her “the look,” if you know what I mean.)

Wow. Bad for two reasons. You can’t control your medication levels by cutting a capsule in half. And capsules work in certain ways … you change the way the medication enters your body and therefore the way it is meant to perform. The doctor explains this patiently but firmly. He asks her to try the medication he’s prescribed for at least six weeks. She agrees. Three days later, the new diuretic is working perfectly.

I now find I’m watching my mom’s medicine intake. I don’t like to have to do this, but I don’t feel like I can trust her to take the pills she’s supposed to take. Years ago, she decided she didn’t need to take B 12 anymore. That didn’t work out so well. It almost killed her and it contributed to her memory loss. She decided years ago to cut her thyroid pill in half and take part of it during the day and the other half during the evening. That didn’t work out so well, either. She gained 20 pounds. Finally, the doctor discovered what she was doing and that got straightened out.

Recently, when she threatened to quit the high blood pressure pill, I said, “OK, mom. But then you suffer the consequences. Your blood pressure will skyrocket and you’ll end up in the hospital.” (Hey, scare tactics were known to work on me when I was a kid.)

I’m writing this blog because I’m at a loss. If you have a suggestion on making mom take her meds, let me hear it!

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2 responses to “Mom Meddles With Meds

  1. Are you sure you weren’t talking about my mom? We are often forced to hand her the meds and watch her take them. Her geriatric doc suggested that Rob and I read; 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace. I’m checking the library today and if they don’t have it, then off to a book store.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I have similar situations with my 91-year old mom. We got a $500 prescription (we had to get special insurance permission for a pain patch called Lidoderm). I asked my mom repeatedly if she’d actually USE them before I filled the prescription and she assured me she would. I think she used one and then hasn’t used them since. She forgets she has them. When I remind her, she’ll tell me she’s using them. I’ve also learned in the past year my mom will lie to me and tell me what she thinks I want to hear, I think just to get me off her back. We had started with Oxycodone but she was afraid to take them (even after I cut them in half – which was ok’ed by her doc). She never took one. If she chooses to live with the pain, that’s OK, but then she complains over and over about it to me. It can be VERY frustrating. It’s good to share with other caregivers who understand because when I talk to friends who aren’t caregivers (and my bro), they just don’t get how stressful it can be. And it’s something that I can’t “fix” which is the most stressful part for me.

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