Friday, April 01, 2005

a basket of medicine

Medications place the home caregiver in a peculiar role. After a year of observing how a care facility deals with daily medications vs home care I’m struck by the ‘professionalism’ demanded of the home caregiver.


Medical and legal requirements dictate who can handle medications in professional environments, including training and education.


Yet in home care it is just taken for granted that the caregiver has their act together. The only training I ever received was a 20 minute session on how to give intramuscular  Avonex injections.  Years before that when Patti tried Calcium EAP as an ‘alternative medicine’ treatment, I had to give her weekly intravenous injections with no training.


When symptoms of mental confusion first appeared Patti’s doctors just expected me to remove her medications from her access and take over. Intuitively, because you are protecting the person in need, you create your own customized system of checks and balances. A degree from the “school of hard knocks” is usually the only medical training.


***(With 3 cats, I guess I could also consider blood loss and scars from “giving pills to cats” over the years as a qualification. <grin>)


Daily prescriptions as in the quantity pictured demands more than just giving someone a pill. Certain meds are

…to be taken with food

…while others should be taken on an empty stomach

…or at specific times of day.

A caregiver has

…to balance the timetable of refills

…renew prescriptions

…find a way to pay for

…and pick up medications.

A caregiver has to research and remember which OTC medicines are in conflict. One cold remedy may contain a less compatible ingredient than another name brand.


I think home caregivers do an extraordinary job with this responsibility. The pictured basket of prescription bottles might seem innocuous, or at worst tedious. Looks deceive.


  1. Yep you are right, I give over 30 tablets of one kind or another everyday.  No one questions my ability to do it.   I keep a list of when and what, what color, what shape, etc., just in case!  Also, we have to look ahead for emergencies, pharmacy closed, car out of service, and in our case we were evaculated from home for several days, have to carry a week's prescriptions in car at all times.  And someone asks why we have gray hair?

  2. When I was in charge of Gil's meds, towards the end of his life, I filled up one of those seven day a week, four times a day pill holders and called him from work to tell him what time it was, what day it was and what colors the pills should be.  I always worried that he would OD but he never became so second nature.

    The protecting instinct runs strong in us human beings...


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