As a caregiver of an elderly parent living independently, you have a lot to look after for your parent to ensure his quality of life is meeting his expectations and yours. One area you may oversee is his prescription medications, and you might have discovered that there are some possible addictive medications that he is taking regularly, and you’re wondering if you should do anything about that.
Your parent may have been taking these same medications for years, not understanding the possibility of becoming addicted or learning about other alternative methods of managing whichever symptoms the medications are prescribed to bring relief from. So, what should you do if you suspect a problem?
- Talk to your parent. While it might be a tough conversation, find out how he feels about the medication he’s
taking. What does it help with and how does it cause problems? Ask if he’s still taking it only as prescribed as well as find out if the prescription dosage has slowly increased over the years. You’ll also want to evaluate why it was prescribed and if your parent still needs it for that reason. If it was an opioid prescribed years ago to help him overcome an injury, he may not need it anymore. If your parent is unsure and has an elderly care provider that’s been with him for years, that person might be able to provide some insight.
- Talk to his doctor. If there are medications, you’re unsure about or are worried that your parent may be abusing, meet with his prescribing physician to discuss other solutions. It is possible your parent’s physician may still recommend he take it, especially if it is prescribed for treatment of a terminal medical condition or if the relief provided outweighs the concern of addiction. She might also have other suggestions for different treatments as well as provide safe instructions for having your parent stop that particular medication. Never initiate a medication change without the physician’s guidance.
- Look for alternative treatments. If stress or anxiety is something your parent struggles with but neither you nor your parent want him heavily medicated for treatment, look for more holistic treatments that can either be performed without any prescription medication or can reduce the amount of prescription medication he uses. Practices like yoga, acupuncture, or meditation are examples of holistic treatments that may help with pain or stress. Before you look at any OTC medications to help with symptoms, check with both your parent’s physician and pharmacist to check for any negative interactions they may have with your parent’s needed prescription medicines.
- Enlist help. If your parent does struggle with addiction or abusing his medications, you’ll want to help him overcome his dependence. Work with his physician to start a plan to help him transition to other alternatives. If you have an elderly care provider, she can help with monitoring your parent’s use of his medication and making sure that he doesn’t have access to a full bottle and can only take what the doctor is prescribing for each day. You can also research support groups that will provide advice for both you as the caregiver and your parent to help him reduce his intake of unnecessary prescription medication.