November 29th, 2010 at 2:01 pm
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Medication Administration Eldercare Alert

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

Prescription medications seem to have a life of their own in eldercare. How could something so simple and straightforwardly administered be so devious and illusive to caregiver police like me? I have a few clues and cues, courtesy of my mother’s sense of humor.

Not even childproof prescription bottle caps are a match for the sleight of hand which occurs with some elders’ medications. By process of elimination, and, after considerable deliberation of this eldercare dilemma, I am confident that the elderly prescription medication chaos of which I blog has nothing to do with any lacking caregiver organization on my part. Moreover, I have long-since dubbed myself as my mother’s caregiver police for a reason.

I am mindful and eagle-eyed in administering prescribed medications to my mother. Still, it shakes me to the core when I occasionally find a stray pill, or 2, while cleaning and vacuuming. How can that be?

Mom inadvertently offered me a clue some months ago. Mom’s disclosure came after we had enjoyed a shared meal at the dining table. Something Mom said caused me to laugh uncontrollably as I headed into the kitchen to put our dishes in the kitchen sink. My unbridled laughter inspired Mom to add to the levity of the moment with another lighthearted comment that she knew (thought?) would keep me laughing. Instead her disclosure made her laugh uncontrollably.

Mom lightheartedly mentioned that, occasionally, when she doesn’t want to eat something on her plate, she knows “exactly what to do.” First smiling, then, laughing non-stop Mom gestured with one hand slid underneath the dining table, as if discarding something from the palm of her hand. “Oops,” she said, pleased with her self-described creative handling of how she [could] make her food disappear in no time, then claim it for the garbage when the caregiver police heat died down.

My reply was as lighthearted as Mom’s passing commentary, and, a long-ago inside family joke of Mom’s creation. I replied, “Is anyone else laughing around here, or is it just you, Mom?” We both enjoyed another moment of levity while I made mental note of Mom’s ‘joke’ for future caregiver police reference.

Mom’s lighthearted candor may also apply to her prescription medicine regimen when a pill I have given her as prescribed by her physicians goes “Oops!” In fairness to Mom, however, I have also personally observed when she doesn’t close the palm of her hand sufficiently or quickly enough to prevent a pill from falling. Elderly arthritic hands occasionally have problems grasping.

As you may imagine, I’m on it! I’m also onto Mom’s “oops.” Sigh.

Eldercare is a mixed bag. There’s always something brewing. “Ojo,” caregivers. [Translation from Spanish to English: "Keep an eye on that!"]

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