Caregivers Make Things Happen

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a good friend who is a caregiver for her beloved mom, recently diagnosed with cancer. The thing is, it’s not enough of a burden to be worried about the disease itself. Often, it’s also about the financial aspect of a major illness, especially medication costs that can be prohibitive, regardless of insurance coverage.

Amazingly enough, my friend was able to obtain grants (based on financial need) to pay for her mom’s cancer meds through two foundations. One is the Lilly Cares Foundation and the other is the PAN Foundation.  In a nutshell, The Lily Cares Foundation helps with certain  medications they make and market by providing the drugs to eligible patients at no cost.  The PAN Foundation will cover out-of-pocket medical costs for eligible participants.

I was thrilled for both her and her mom, yet she was hesitant to take any credit for making this happen, saying that all she did was fill out forms. Since the application was based on “need,” she had no influence to exert over the outcome.

That’s when I realized how important it was to share this thought with her and with you. Caregivers are the unsung heroines and heroes of our society; continually making things happen for those you care about, and very often working behind the scenes with little or no recognition. Non-caregivers may not have a clue, but those of us who’ve been in your shoes understand just how much time and energy it takes, and you are seen, heard, and appreciated.

“Take the kudos,” I told my friend. “You are freaking awesome.”


Hug Your Pharmacist Today

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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.