By IKU KIRIYAMA
When we’re young, we take our health for granted, eating whatever we want, seeing a doctor once in a blue moon for, at the worst, a bad cold. Then, as many seniors will agree, your body starts to fall apart after 60, and the subject of conversations always includes a litany of illnesses. Younger eyes may roll, but seniors will say, “Wait till you get to be MY age.”
I used to think that my health-care provider made money off of me because I never got sick – went for years with perfect attendance as a teacher – while LAUSD paid generously into my health benefits.
I never even took vitamins, as I was a terrible pill taker. And medications? What medications? Maybe aspirin.
My journey with medications began after I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and prescribed a list of medications. And along came high cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, a stroke. I took whatever medications were prescribed, assuming that whatever I was prescribed was based on my personal situation. Never questioned.
At different times, I began having dizzy spells, fainting, severe muscle and joint pains. Over the past few years, I have discovered I was over-medicated. At first, it was thought I was allergic to some medications.
My current primary care physician (PCP) pays attention to my reactions, now knowing my body reacts to the regular dosages. I monitor what’s happening, go online, read the side effects information that comes with the medications. I’ve become my own advocate. You can’t expect your doctor to keep track; after all, you live in your skin 24/7.
I’ve done forums since 2006 — medical forums and end-of-life and grief from loss of a spouse, all with professionals in the fields. I had done a couple with Keiro Senior HealthCare and worked with Dianne Kujubu Belli, chief administrative officer and executive director of The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro. I asked if the topic of prescription medications, talking with your doctor and understanding how they affect your well-being would be a topic of interest. She believes it would be.
On Sunday, June 10, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro is presenting and hosting an education session, “Is It My Medication?,” from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Keiro Retirement Home, Activity Center Auditorium, 325 S. Boyle Ave., Los Angeles. I will co-present the topic and discussion with Jennifer Perez, Pharm.D. of HealthCare Partners, a specialist in geriatric pharmacy.
I will share my personal experiences, and Dr. Perez will discuss issues relating to medication dosages and how to talk with your physician and pharmacist about medication choices. Program partners for the education session are the Nikkei Widowed Group and HealthCare Partners.
Light refreshments will be provided by The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro.
Reservations are requested as seating is limited. Email [email protected] or call (323) 980-2353.
Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.