Please Take Your Medicine
Yesterday at the barn, an interesting topic came up while we were waiting for a lesson. LH mentioned that her mother had a stroke because she hadn't been taking her blood pressure medication. Her mother recovered, but isn't as sharp as she once was. LH and the others couldn't understand how someone could have high blood pressure and not take their medicine. I didn't answer that, but there are several reasons. High cost and forgetfulness come to mind. In the case of LH's mother, the reason was simple. She didn't think anything would happen to her if she didn't take the medication. I've lost count of the number of times a patient has told me that.
Medicines are prescribed for a reason. In the case of high blood pressure, it is to prevent hypertensive emergencies that can result in strokes. It's kind of scary to think of all the people walking around who aren't taking prescribed medications. On one hand it means PTs will always have patients. On the other hand it means all those people are taking an unnecessary health risk. Many won't be as lucky as LH's mother. She returned to her prior functional status and is living at home. LH said she admits to not being as smart as she once was. It's sad to know that could have been prevented.
Ironically, the other women in the conversation all went on to remark that they hadn't been to the doctor in awhile. One admitted she needed to go. These women are close to my age. They're nearing menopause when hormonal changes increase the risk of heart attack, osteoporosis and breast cancer. Yet none of them saw any need to actually go to the doctor. I'll admit I'm bad about going, but I do. I wonder how many PTs can say the same thing. I think my group of friends is representative of people everywhere. It's scary to think what might happen to the demand for PT services if this trend continues as the baby boomers age.
This has made me wonder about something else. Who is keeping an eye the health of our parents? If LH had known her mother would have a stroke, I think she would have been more involved in the medicine issue. I can see how someone wouldn't think about it with a healthy parent, but what about individuals whose parents are ill? I do a lot of education with families about home programs and safety. Now that I've been thinking about this, it might be a good idea to mention compliance with medicines. All I have to say is something like, "Remember to take your meds regularly to help prevent falls." I often joke with patients I want to see them again as visitors not patient. By saying that I'm within my scope of practice and encouraging a positive behavior. I might even be lowering my future caseload by one. That would be a good thing.