When my sister and I don’t feel well, whom do we call? After each other, we check in with dad.
“Did you call daddy,?” My sister Madeline will say if I call to complain about a particular ailment, anything ranging from an arthritic ache to a zealous zit.
Our father isn’t a doctor. But he acts like one.
He’ll “prescribe” ointments and pills and often supply them for us.
He’ll scrounge among the apothecary that has pervaded what once was their bathroom. In place of a traditional medicine cabinet, is one closet with three deep shelves crammed with prescription and over the counter remedies, some dating back at least 30 years.
At each end of the tile counter, my parents have their own “stash” of drugs. And my father, who uses a plastic shopping bag for his traveling toilet kit, has several of these tucked under the counter. To remind him of each drug’s use, long after the prescription label has faded, he writes a key word—“feet”, “eyes”, for example, on the cap or box.
We tell them you can’t take each other’s meds when one prescription runs out. But hey, they’re 81 and 83; it works for them.
But my parents aren’t alone in finagling how they take pills.
“Nearly three in four Americas do not follow doctor’s orders for taking prescription drugs… One in three patients never even fills the prescription.” Tara Parker-Pope’s “Well” column in today’s New York Times (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com) tells how FICO, a credit score company has developed a medication adherence score to predict who might not take medications as prescribed. They suggest that doctors and insurance companies telephone these people once identified. Not taking proper dosages, skipping dosages, taking pills at the wrong time, combining pills, and so on can result in unnecessary deaths.
I know I’m guilty of the same behavior. Once I feel a bit better, why bother taking more pills?
The use of multivitamins is also under scrutiny. Melinda Beck’s “Health Journal” in today’s Wall Street Journal ( http://online.wsj.com) explains how these vitamins are lightly regulated, have no standard formula, and may not be necessary. Healthy eating, many believe, negates the need for multivitamins.