Articles > Medical Issues > Medications: Part One

Medications: Part One

Published by Chapster on 2002/5/28 (2397 reads)
This article is the script of an interview we did about medications. The interview was with Dr. James Griffin, Station Director of KEOM 88.5 FM, Mesquite Schools Radio. This is part one of a two part series.

Medications 1
Taped live at KEOM studios
May 28,2002

Q: So what are we talking about today, Mike

A: Today we're talking about medications, especially as they concern seniors and the elderly. On December 11, 2001, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that about one-fifth of the nearly 32 million elderly Americans used one or more of 33 different medications that physicians consider potentially harmful. The same study reported that somewhere around one million of the elderly were using one or more of 11 different medications that geriatric experts and pharmacists feel should ALWAYS be avoided in the elderly. Their conclusion? Quote:

Overall inappropriate medication use in elderly patients remains a serious problem
(http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v286n22/abs/joc11034.html ).



Q: Are there other issues involved in this?

A: Yes. There are many parts of the problem. One part is the way health care is funded. Another is the failure of our health care system to really hear the patient. Yet another part is the way patients are moved from physician to physician. A key component of addressing this issue is the presence of an attentive primary care physician. But a more insidious aspect of this is the way we treat medications in our society: We have become a medicated society. This is not to minimize the value or importance of medications. But, I fear that we minimize our medicines, we don't take them seriously. And, this comes at the cost of enormous human suffering.

Q: How does this impact the elderly?

A: Well, as we age and change, we may require more medications. Those medications should be considered to be like an orchestra: The instruments need to be tuned, the musicians need to play well together, and there absolutely, unequivocally, has to be one conductor, not ten. The elderly are often seeing multiple physicians for several different issues. They need to be able to cross-check every prescription with one, primary physician, the conductor. This is the biggest way that we can prevent the unnecessary suffering that comes from dangerous drug interactions.

Q: What can caregivers and the elderly do to help protect themselves?

A: As I said earlier, the value of an attentive physician is extremely important. A neglected person in this equation is the pharmacist. We can help ourselves a lot by using one pharmacy consistently and developing a relationship with your pharmacist. He or she may be able to put a more human face on the ways that your medications might interact with your lifestyle. For instance, just last night I was reading about the way grapefruit juice can impair the effectiveness of certain very important medications. Alcohol, when combined with certain medications, can lead to very dangerous problems. These examples highlight the fact that not only do medicines have to play well together, our medicines have to play well with our lifestyle.

Q: Are there other ways to help with these concerns?


A: Absolutely. But, we'll probably have to save them until next month, when we'll talk about this a little more.

Q: Mike, where can our listeners get more information?

A: They can get a transcript of our conversation today at our web site, www.elderhope.com . In fact, if our listeners click on the tools and inspiration link on the site, they will see a link to one of our affiliates where they can get information on their prescriptions. Most importantly, today, talk with your doctor, the conductor, and your pharmacist.

Tags: elderly   medication   physician  

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