Am I in the right to question Mom's doctor about her medication?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I was the caretaker for my mother for 6 years and she does have dementia. I was so proud of how well she did however the nights where an issue. She did fall one night several years ago and after her rehab. I did leave her in a facility however I am there every evening to bath and care for her. The facility is a state facility however we do pay; a combination of her pension- ss and anything else. She recently became ill and had a bronchitus ended in the hospital. When she was released ( making a long story short) I questioned her doctor on some of her medication. Her base line has changed and I want to get her base line closer to where she was several weeks ago. Questioning the Dr seems to be a problem and he pretty much told me off due to the fact I am not an MD. I have always cared for and involved in my mothers care and I am her POA.

What are my rights with respect to the DR care and medications. Do I have the right to question him?

Thank You

Expert Answers

For 20 years, physical therapist Connie Lambert has worked with individuals and families with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. As founder and CEO of Our Generations, LLC, she provides specialized dementia and behavioral management training for corporations, facilities, and groups.

Your mother is very fortunate to have you.

You have every right to ask questions of your mother's doctor. It is part of his job to answer questions to your satisfaction.

As your mother's POA it is your responsibility to help her remain as functional as possible. Due to her recent illness, it is likely her medications were changed. Some medications may have been added and certain ones may have been increased. Since her return from the hospital it is unlikely her medications have been reviewed and returned to her pre-illness levels.

If she is to regain her previous baseline functional levels I suggest you do the following:

  1. Ask the nursing home for a list of the medications and dosages she was taking prior to her recent illness.

  2. Ask the nursing home for a list of her current medications and dosages and compare them. If there are new medications on the list ask the nurses why they are being given. If dosages of her regular medicines have been increased ask why, especially for narcotics or behavioral medicines such as sedatives, antipsychotics or antiepileptic medicines such as Lamictal.

  3. Look up the major side effects for her medications. The internet and your pharmacist are good resources. This is information you should have before talking with the doctor.

  4. It is important to have a trusting relationship with your mother's physician. Since her current one has not been helpful you may wish to change physicians at this point.

  5. Hopefully, physical and occupational therapy can be used to assist in functionality.

You need and your mother deserves a physician you can talk with and who will listen and understand that you know her better than anyone else.

You have my very best wishes. Good luck.

Community Answers

Daisytcam answered...

I have cared for my father who has mild dementia and I congratulate you on being so involved in your mother's care. If more family members were, seniors would be better off for it, I can tell you that for a fact. YES, you have every right to question ANYONE who cares for your mother. I am not an MD and came across a similar situation a few times because i know all his meds and question when it was changed and why, when he was in the hospital (also went through a hip fracture with him in Nov. 2010). I make it quite clear that while i am not an MD, I know better than anyone how he reacts to his usual meds and if i see a change in his behavior or condition, i want to know what is causing it and if it can be adjusted or stopped totally.Some medications are on ly for a temporary basis so the more you are on top of it, the less likely your mom will be taking stuff she no longer needs. Some doctors are too quick to pull out the pen and prescribe more drugs i find. Many times new meds are too strong for frail bodies and a simple adjustment can make it easier and safer i believe for them. I have also had situations where the hospital would go off an old list from their records of what his meds were and i would constantly ask nurses what they were about to give him before it was given to ensure they had the right list. I cannot tell you how many times (due to shift changes and they don't read the chart notes i guess but just go with medicine cart drug list) they were going to give him something he no longer took or had been reduced the amount of times a medication was being taken and they were going on old instructions.

I think it is up to the doctor to explain to you what any new meds may have as far as side effects or changes in behavior on your mom. I know it may not be easy to get another doctor since she is in a facility and there may be only one doctor assigned to that floor. I would notify the head nurse and facility administrator/social worker about options (perhpas another floor if there is a doctor that is different and also just to have them be aware of his/her attitude towards family). Best of luck to you and your Mom.