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Myths about aging, proud octogenerians

Jack_Pinkus_PharmacistJack Pinkus in action at Baycrest

Jack Pinkus, retired pharmacist with 17 years on the Board on the Ontario Pharmacists
Association opened his educational session at Baycrest by exploding the following myths:

• Age will inevitably bring illness
• Damage is already done, so why bother taking care of my health
• Getting old means losing mental sharpness
• Getting old means being sad, lonely and inactive.

This was good news to the group aged 70+. He then explained succinctly the difference between normal forgetfulness and signs of dementia:
“Everybody forgets their keys. That’s not a problem. That’s normal. It’s when you forget what the keys are for – that’s when you’ve got a problem.”

Medication messages specific to getting older:
• Aging makes the body more sensitive the effects of medication.
• Having trouble with the small type on your prescriptions? Ask your pharmacist for a larger easier to read label.

Messages relevant to everyone:
• Natural does not mean safe.

The worst places to store medication are:
• Bathroom: humidity affects chemistry.
• Fridge (unless specifically indicated): cold and humidity affects chemistry
• Window Sill: sunlight affects chemistry.

We’re always instructed by have a list of what we’re taking. I puzzled about what to use when making and keeping up a list of meds: Brand or generic (not to be confused with what happens when brand names become generic) I mean, how much easier to say Prozac (nothing to disclose) than Fluoxetine Hcl. The answer: Wise to have both, especially traveling outside Canada when brand names may be different.

During the session, another example of how much of the langue of health is not properly understood. A heavily accented woman, mid 70’s said:

‘I was told to get enteric asprin’.

Answered Jack, “Enteric means coated.”

Asked woman, “Is it the same pill?” Yes it is.

But when I spoke to her after, what she really wanted to understand what this enteric ‘coated’ business meant.

In the audience, two delightful women – looking and sounding much younger than their age, Ruthie Freedman and Frieda Rubenstein, 82 and 83. The both have a marvelous sense of humour, and joyous smiles.

Ruthie Freedman shows off her teeth, courtesy her son

Ruthie Freedman 82

Ruthie Freedman showed off ‘her son’s teeth’.“My son used to tell me, ‘Mom, you’re losing it’.He stopped when I said, ‘I’ve already chosen the home you can put me in. It’s $3,000 a month.

Frieda Rubenstein, proud of her own teeth

Freda Rubenstin 83

 

Suggested reading:  Mouth care: can make a difference to quality of life

Dr Paula Rochon: Medications and the elderly

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