A caregiver’s story of medication overload

November 14th, 2019

In a recent feature article in Healthy Aging magazine, patient advocate Johanna Trimble describes what happened when her mother-in-law, Fervid, was transferred from her residential facility to a nearby health care center to treat her flu symptoms. Johanna and her family began to notice some unusual and alarming symptoms–Fervid was confused and agitated, and sometimes could not even recognize her children.

A psychiatrist at the health care center diagnosed vascular dementia, but Johanna and her family suspected that medication overload was to blame. Fervid had been placed on several new medications, including two antidepressants, while in the health care center. And now, the psychiatrist was suggesting adding another drug to her regimen. Johanna and her family were flabbergasted that the staff had added so many new medications without telling her family first. 

Johanna and her family recognized that too many medications in older people can cause serious harm, both physically and cognitively. According to a Lown Insitute report, every day 750 adults age 65 and over in the U.S. are hospitalized because of a serious side effect caused by one or more medications. These adverse drug events can range from fatigue and dizziness to cognitive decline and falls. The more medications one takes, the greater the risk of harm.

How did Johanna and her family restore Fervid back to health? What advice would Johanna give family caregivers trying to protect their loved ones from medication overload? To find out, read her article in Healthy Aging!

Family Caregivers: Protect Your Loved Ones from Medication Overload