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One Family's Tragedy

After 35 years as a pharmacist, Rob Albers was familiar with many of the medication risks that older adults face, from overdosing to improper medication use. But he wasn't prepared to see a medication mistake result in an accident that left his own father, John, paralyzed from the waist down.

When the accident happened in 2007, John Albers was managing his own medications, noted his son. "He did it all himself. He would arrange and highlight the bottles." What he didn't count on, though, was that the manufacturer had changed the color of one of the medications.

Challenged by macular degeneration, a condition that affects eyesight, John Albers thought he was taking a blood pressure medication and a blood thinner. But, for three weeks, he was on a double dose of blood thinners. "Dad called me at 10:30 one night and said he had severe lower back pain," Rob Albers said. "By the next morning he was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of bleeding in his spine," noted Albers, who was a long distance caregiver at the time of the accident.

The condition cannot be reversed, and John Albers, 89, and his wife now live in a care facility as a result. Rob Albers said he thinks his father's accident could have been avoided if he'd had a pill planner or a caregiver to help him manage his medications.

Look for resources like these senior health tracking tools to help your loved one manage his or her medications to avoid tragic medication-related accidents.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 4, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Posted by Cheryl

    Yes - I agree the blister packs are nice, however you also have to make sure the Doctor gives the pharmacy the correct instructions. My Mom was given Haldol, which was to be given as needed (to reduce anger, anxiety) but the Doctors Office called in for her to be given it morning and night. After 2 months of that she was a mess and never able to go home again...........

    Reply

  2. June 17, 2011 at 9:38 am | Posted by Cat Koehler, Social Media Advocate, Home Instead

    That is a great tip, LaVerne! Pharmacists are a valuable resource and partner. More people need to start looking at them as such, and not someone who just fills prescriptions.

    Reply

  3. June 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Posted by LaVerne

    If your pharmacist will do a blister pack for u all u have to do is ask the next time u are at the pharmacist, They will package all ur meds in order of the time of the day u take they and there is no chance of taking the wrong pill at the wrong time. Worked for my Mom.

    Reply

  4. May 19, 2011 at 7:54 am | Posted by Florence Eley

    I can relate to this article. I'm 80 yoa with failing eyesight. Recently, one of my medications, Amlodipine was changed to the 'same' color as another one, Hydrochlorot that I take; only the 'shape' differs. To keep from over dosing on one, I have to take special care in keeping the bottles apart! Thanks to your article, I'll relate this issue to those involved with my care. I take advantage of your helpful tips, and thank you for them! Thankfully yours, Ms Eley

    Reply

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