Two years ago mom and dad were living independently in a mobile home community in the winter and at their home in the north in the summer. Mom counted out their prescription and over-the-counter pills weekly and tried to make sure dad took his as well.
Mom was sometimes confused as some medications (Nifediac, Nifedipine, Adalat, Procardia) came under many different generic names. Thus mom would sometimes give dad the same medication under 2 different names at the same time – one Nifedipine and one Adalat for instance, thus doubling his dose of that medication at one time.
In addition, Mom had vision problems and some confusion. Dad was sometimes confused and would sometimes skip a day’s worth of pills. Other times on the day mom counted the pills, dad would take his from the box before mom counted them out for the week and then again afterwards – thus taking 2 doses of each pill in one day.
When I was visiting, I noticed mom had to remind dad to take his pills many times before he took them. He would say he would take them later as he didn’t want to get out of his chair. Sometimes mom would bring them to him with a glass of water, but not all the time.
Both mom and dad seemed to need constant medication adjustments as the doctor tried to keep their blood pressure and other indicators under control. Dad was on 2 different blood pressure medications to keep his high blood pressure in check and often he complained of dizziness. The doctor told me it took him a long time to get the dosage adjusted just right.
After mom and dad went into the first Assisted Living Facility in the summer of 2010, both seemed to be thriving. They both looked much healthier. This was noted by their home health nurse who visited monthly to give dad a vitamin B shot. She called to tell me how much better mom and dad were both doing in the ALF and that both mom and dad were more aware and alert and seemed happier as well.
After mom passed away in late 2010, I brought dad to a new Assisted Living Facility closer to my home. He has been in the same location for over a year and a half except for a brief period when he was hospitalized and then in a nursing home. In the past full year though, dad has thrived in his ALF. He has gained back the 20 pounds that he lost and his color and his spirit are much better. He is more social as well.
It finally dawned on me this morning as I spoke with his medication management aide that much of his improvement is probably due to better medication management. Dad used to take high doses of 2 blood pressure medications to keep his blood pressure in check. Now he has dropped one and is just taking the other. In addition, he has discontinued his cholesterol lowering medication.
I believe that he is now getting all of his doses as prescribed – not too much and not too little each day. In addition, his nutrition is much better.
Dad was always a fussy eater. Mom always cooked canned vegetables rather than fresh or frozen vegetables. And, dad liked almost everything to be fried – fried eggs, French fries, fried fish or meat, etc. Mom always made a salad with each dinner but dad rarely ate it.
Now dad is still a fussy eater, but the food prepared for him is nutritionally sound. He is served fewer fried foods and more balanced meals. Even though he still refuses to eat some of the food that is served to him, I believe dad is eating a healthier diet than he was before.
I believe dad is doing so much better this year because of these two things – better medication management and a healthier diet. And for that, I am thankful for his Assisted Living Facility. For my parents, living independently meant neglecting their health by failing to follow the proper medication regimen and failing to eat a healthy diet.
I do not believe there is one solution for better living for all people no matter the circumstances. However, for my parents, moving into an Assisted Living Facility made it much easier to maintain their health habits as prescribed by their doctor.
There may be other ways to oversee the medication regimen and healthy diets for people living at home or in independent living facilities. For many, this might require the help of a home health nurse or companion. Others might live in communities that serve meals in a common dining room. Either way, family members who are trying to oversee their elder’s health might want to look into ways to help them maintain a proper diet and regular medication regimen.