While I was having my morning coffee break this morning, I remembered a recent situation that a family found themselves in that I wanted to share with our readers. This memory stems from the articles I have been sharing regarding the Opioid Epidemic in America. I know that talking about addiction is uncomfortable. I know that know one wants to think it could be happening to our loved ones. But, statistics don’t lie. It is a problem in “homes like ours’, “neighborhoods like ours”, and with “friends like ours”. And it won’t go away if we just ignore it.
The story I was reminded of this morning actually happened to a family I know quite well, and I think that it should be an eye-opener for all of us.
This particular family had aging parents who wished to stay in their own home for as long as possible – as many do. To facilitate that process, they hired a home health care nurse to come stay with their parents during the day to assist with routine day-to-day activities such as cooking, cleaning, helping with medications, dressing – all the usual things the parents needed help with. This particular nurse was independent, rather than working for a service.
After a few months, the children of the aging parents noticed that they were suddenly spending more money and having prescriptions refilled more often than in the past. Not understanding what was happening, they decided to install home monitoring cameras to keep and eye on things, and what did they notice? Not that the parents were taking more of their narcotic pain medications than were prescribed, but that the home health care nurse was pocketing a “few” tablets here and there.
Of course, the home health nurse was let go, based upon the video surveillance. Was this nurse taking the medications to support their own narcotic habit? Or was the nurse stealing narcotics for a loved one with an addiction? Or were they selling the narcotics to others with addictions? This family does not know the answer to that question, nor does it matter for the purposes of this story. What does matter is that their parents were ultimately saved from a dangerous situation because someone in the family was aware that people did develop addictions to narcotic pain medications and that it was necessary to monitor their parent’s pain meds. Because, whether it was the parent’s over-medicating, or caretakers stealing, either situation is dangerous for the elderly parents.