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Pills, Pills, Pills



"My father takes what amounts to a handful of pills morning, noon, and night. Most of them are medications he’s taken for years. Each year, one or two more are added by one of his many doctors. I have no idea how Dad even keeps it straight.

I wonder when enough is enough. Dad’s 90 and in relatively good health so far. I haven’t said anything about all these pills, but I have to think at some point they’ll start doing more harm than good.

Is there an ideal way to approach the medication situation without upsetting him or his doctor? I feel a bit like someone who’s butting in without any real knowledge."



The good news is that Dad made it to 90 and living beyond actuarial projections for a male in 2023. It’s likely that some of those medications have helped prolong his healthy life thus far. 

When you take medications as ordered, they usually do more good than harm. There are side effects and the list of things that could go wrong is daunting, but providers are acutely aware of all that and don’t prescribe without consideration. 

Be aware that these days, all medical records are electronic. Medications are usually reviewed at every doctor’s visit. They ask about medications on each visit. If he sees many doctors, he’s being quizzed over and over. I’m confident that he’s a bit tired of reviewing those medications each time.

The big disconnect can be patient behavior. People have differing opinions and theories about their medications. Some think less is better and take half of what is prescribed. Others take a little bit extra even though it’s NOT prescribed. Some crush pills when they should not, while others take theirs at the worst times. I would say that mismanagement of medications by patients is the biggest challenge. If your father falls into one of these behaviors and doesn’t disclose to his doctor, that could affect what he is prescribed, and be dangerous. So, what matters is complete honesty.

If your father is receptive, write down his medications, look them up, and make a list of questions you both have. Have your father take that list with him to his next appointments and heed each doctor’s advice.

It sounds like Dad has a strong advocate for his ongoing health in you. He is blessed to have you in his corner. Everyone could benefit from a partner in good health.