January 12th is Pharmacist Day, and it’s time to share a tip straight from Chapter Five of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving, entitled “Kosher Pickles. Check. Blood Pressure Meds. Check.”
You may not realize it, but when caring for an aging parent, one of the most valuable relationships you can cultivate is with their local pharmacist.
Fortunately for me, my mom was a smart cookie who’d already thought of that. She was a regular at Harrison’s Pharmacy, which was only a 2 minute drive from her home. And while it wasn’t always the cheapest place to fill some of her prescriptions, the assistance we received over a period of time was invaluable. About once a month or whenever a drug was added or subtracted by one of her physicians, the pharmacist would print out an updated list that included what each medication was for, and the exact dosage. So, instead of dragging a laundry bag of pill bottles with her to each doctor’s appointment, she took this list, instead. In addition, she gave copies to me, my siblings, paid caregivers, and also kept one in her handbag for emergency room personnel at the hospital.
Since older adults can often find themselves under the care of multiple specialists prescribing a cornucopia of drugs, a knowledgeable pharmacist can be the first line of defense when it comes to sounding the alarm about potential side effects and interactions. Especially important, since taking more than three medications daily can increase those chances.
By the way, what works for your parent can also work for you. So, next time you visit your own pharmacist, take a minute to say “Thanks.” Down the road, it could be a life-saver.