This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Monday, September 15, 2008


John is going to Washington DC tomorrow. He will be flying there and taking public transportation once he gets there, and he will be staying with my aunt, so I am not particularly worried about the trip.

This evening it was about 5:30 pm when we got home from the sleep doctor (plus a trip to the supermarket because John was going to cook but hadn't bought anything). He remembered suddenly that he needed to get his prescriptions filled before his trip. He started gathering prescription bottles, and I said "Do it from the list I made up, not from the bottles." He said no, he didn't trust the list, he wanted to do it from the bottles. I said "At least check the bottles against the list on the computer."

When he had left for the pharmacy I checked the bottles he had left on the table and found that he had called in a medication he has stopped taking and not called in his Sinemet. I called the pharmacist and corrected the error. This is a small town pharmacy owned by two pharmacists, so the pharmacist knew who I was. He even started to tease me that they don't take corrections, but I said "This is a tense subject at our house: whether John can manage his own prescriptions."

When John came home and we were eating dinner (which I cooked), I asked him if it was time for me to take over getting his prescriptions. He said no, not at all. I asked him what he was going to do differently the next time, and he said be more careful. I said that wasn't enough, that he needs some strategy such as using the list on the computer or at least keeping his current prescription bottles in a separate place instead of in a tray with many old prescription bottles. He didn't say anything to that.

The mistake would not have been a crisis, as he had enough Sinemet left for his trip. But I had worked it out so all of his prescriptions can be filled at the same time instead of spread out through the month, and I would hate to have him mess that up.

I think to him managing his own medications is as important a part of his sense of control as driving is. I don't think he is messing with them in any dangerous way, just occasionally taking an extra one of the Clonidine he takes to settle his ADD so he can sleep. But he has some system of three bottles of each medication that he doesn't want me to simplify. So I guess I will let it go--hopefully before it gets to be too much of a mess he will be willing to admit he needs help.

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