Tag Archives: The Elderly


There are some people who abuse alcohol or drugs their entire lives and live to be 80 years old with no problem. On the flip side of this you have people who later in life, form addictions due to an “event” or “trigger”.

Retirement, death of a spouse or loved one, loss of income, or a decline in physical health can all be triggers for addiction in older people. Depression is one of the biggest problems.

You wake up one day unable to do the things you once loved, worried about finances, still grieving the loss of your wife/husband who was also your best friend, your children have their own lives now and you find you have fewer people to talk to. All of these things can lead to depression.

I’ll discuss more about depression at a later date.

A person’s age and gender contributes greatly to how open and honest they will be when answering a doctor’s questions but doctors play a role too. Too often an older adult’s concerns are dismissed as “old age” and prescription medications are used to solve the problem.

The #1 drug prescribed to people over the age of 65 and on Medicare are Benzodiazepines. They are used to treat anxiety, pain, and insomnia. They are also one of the most dangerous medications prescribed to seniors.

According to the American Geriatric Society benzodiazepines pose an increased risk for impaired alertness, respiratory depression and falls.

All benzodiazepines slow down the Central Nervous System. When used for insomnia it’s only effective for a few weeks. When combined with another benzodiazepine you can lose consciousness and stop breathing.

There are symptoms people experience when combining benzodiazepines that you need to contact your doctor if you exhibit:

  1. Continuing slurred speech or confusion.
  2. Severe drowsiness or weakness.
  3. Staggering.

There is a big issue with over-prescribing or “polypharmacy” which means having more prescribed medications on a daily or weekly basis than is healthy for one person to have. It becomes dangerous due to different drug interactions and side effects.

A person with a chronic or serious illness can find it challenging to keep up with a complicated medication schedule. Taking multiple meds at one time can cause some medications to neutralize each other so they end up taking more believing they either didn’t take it or it’s not working.

My Dad didn’t understand why he was still feeling so anxious specifically at the end of his dialysis treatments. He wouldn’t understand unless he had a degree in Pharmacodynamics or was a doctor (most doctors still don’t understand how to adjust medications for patients on dialysis). The pain medication he was on for his compressed nerve was making him anxious as it was being dialyzed. The anxiety medication he normally takes is at a very low dose. He didn’t think twice about doubling the anxiety medication. He would be unsteady on his feet when leaving the Dialysis Center and no one said a word.

Some people go to more than one doctor who may prescribe a medication without knowing what the patient is already taking. Patients don’t always remember all of their medications and don’t make a list like they are asked to.

I usually go with my Dad to any new appointments to fill out the paperwork and list all of his medications. His Nephrologist doesn’t see him in his office he visits him during his dialysis treatment. This means I can’t be there. I’m not there to fill out any new paperwork or to let them know about any new medications. My Dad isn’t going to tell them. My Dad will say everything is “Fine” when the doctor comes around.

Primary Care Physicians should be going over a patient’s list of medications on a regular basis and making adjustments. I know my Dad’s does not. If he did he wouldn’t have prescribed 2 benzodiazepines with an opioid. My Dad shouldn’t still be on Klonopin and they should be looking at Chronic Pain Management instead of him taking Hydrocodone that isn’t even working. I made him stop taking the Restoril. I personally wanted to go to his doctor’s office and tear him a new one for even prescribing it to a 75 year old man. It’s a dangerous medication for anyone to take long term but even more so for people over 65.

None of this matters when you are dealing with someone so full of pride and stubbornness that he won’t admit just how sick he is.


The last several days I have been locked in my room and on occasion locked in my bathroom. I figure at 73 my dad would have hard time getting through both doors.

My father, as good of a man as he is, has always had a short temper. He was the King of Road Rage and yelling at cashiers.

When he makes up his mind to dislike something or someone there is no changing it. When he quit drinking cold turkey he hated all alcohol and couldn’t be around anyone who had a drink.

He was the same when he quit smoking. Unfortunately for us he decided to do this at the same time he quit drinking. My mother joined him in sobriety but did not quit smoking. This caused some problems as you can imagine.

He is 73 years old, on Dialysis, has had a quadruple bypass, an aortic aneurysm, Internal Hemorrhaging from an unknown source, Temporal Arteritis, Peritonitis twice, and a various amount of other life threatening issues.

An ER doctor put him on Prednisone for his diagnosis of Temporal Arteritis without doing any of the diagnostic testing. The Prednisone made my father’s temper 10 times what it was. He had mellowed out in the last few years for my sake. The Prednisone brought it all back and then some.

The smallest thing will set him off. Today he couldn’t find the phone number for the Vet. The Pomeranian has Epilepsy and needed her medication refilled. I could see the storm brewing a mile away. I didn’t want to be caught in it. I didn’t move fast enough.

The throwing of notebooks and papers started. The “Goddamns” followed. I tried to give him the number and was yelled at. I grabbed some water and started to head upstairs. He asked “What do you think you’re doing?”. I told him I couldn’t be around him when he was acting the way he was. He responded “Maybe you should just leave then.”  I told him it was a bad time of year for me and I didn’t want to make matters worse for him so I was getting out of his way. He said not to bother he was leaving and didn’t I think this time of year was tough on him too? He said some other things that I either don’t want to remember or just don’t.

While I’m upstairs he slams the door so hard downstairs that the items on my bathroom sink fall over. I start to shake. I can’t type because my hands have a tremor when this happens. I try to call my sister but she doesn’t answer. She went hiking with a friend not far from our house. I did try to text but my tremor was too bad at the time. I would’ve used the Talk to Text but I found I was also stuttering. She would’ve received gibberish.

I took a klonopin to calm down and got in my bed for awhile. It’s the only thing that helps when I get really bad.

I shouldn’t have to live like this. I love my dad and I owe him so much. If I have to sacrifice myself I will. I don’t think he realizes that even though he’s been through so much he is actually the healthier one in the house.

There are a few things that make me extremely angry. He’s been getting off of the Dialysis machine early because he wants to go to a clock auction or a pigeon show. They have to change the schedule this week because of Thanksgiving and he would have to go on Saturday. There is a Pigeon Show on Saturday that he registered for to compete in. If they can’t fit him in somewhere else at dialysis then he will skip it.

The fact that he will risk his life to show pigeons pisses me off. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being the only one of his children that even talks to him or cares.

What I don’t regret is all the good times I was able to have with both of my parents that my siblings missed out on. I wouldn’t trade that for anything061156c9d31ef8bdf0c874b8f57da5f9

My dad and I try our best. Some days are a lot harder than others.

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