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My mother is currently on bed rest at home with a fractured lower back and a torn rotator cuff. She is 75 and has a little confusion, depression, and anxiety about being alone. She has in home round the clock girls staying with her including myself. Yesterday she said she has some Opana (morphine based narcotic) pills missing. We did not find them anywhere. I am not sure what to do, I really have no proof anyone stole the pills. I suggested she "hide" them in a place only the two of us know where they are. Any other suggestions?

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All very good advice, this has been quite the learning experience for me. It is so difficult to have to handle all this and still take care of my young children and work full time! I appreciate it all!
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I think no one on morphine should be handling her own pills. My mother was so resistant to using even a pill minder box, but there was always confusion about whether she had taken pills, forgotten them or lost them. Now I put her day's pills out in the morning near where she takes each dose; she has no access to any others. I think it also deters theft, as they are not labeled.
I would add that when my mother broke her pelvis last year, they put her on Vicodin in the nursing home, and she was deteriorating fast (she's 94) and always out of it. I insisted they take her off and put her on a non-narcotic like Tramadol. She started brightening in a few days. I went to visit one morning, and the nurse had been in to tell my mother that Vicodin was not addicting and that she really needed to be on it. I think they just wanted her asleep. We switched instead to Tylenol, and she got so much better that she moved home.
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Also report it to the employer of the hired caregivers. You may not have proof, but if the employer gets numerous reports from different patients, and one employee is always in mix, they maybe able to take action. Which may help you AND others in the long run.
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I was a home care giver for hospice patients and I had one women who would drop her morphine on the floor and I guess @ the time it was protocol to pick it up with a tissue, show patient and throw away, and logged it in the journal. She always thought some where missing, I'd have to show her the log entry and sometimes have to get it from the trash. I was in college and in the early years of what would become a 10 year love affair with prescription pills. My patient at the time did indeed drop and then have me toss it out, (which was absolutely ob-sired to a "normal" person never mind a fast maturing drug addict) and I would take it out at the end of my shift, then take the trash out, to "cover my track" more or less. I am very sorry that you have to deal with missing meds, its not fair or right to do to your elderly mom. I agree with everyone else lock them up and a nanny cam too. who knows how sick this girl could be, at my lowest points of using a probably would have tried to open the safe, I'd tell her about the nanny cams, that way if she does try to find them you can get her fired. Hopfully losing her job and reputation in the field is enough for her to hit her rock bottom. Sad but thats what many of us need to push us into recovery. Hope this helps a little, good luck and lock everything up even the deed to your house, that same patient thought someone took her deed, I don't know if it was missing but she thought it was, God Bless Mrs.G, where ever she is now
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An Elder can become confused, with or without meds on-board.
Having narcotic or other meds too easily reached, could be a hazard, if they mis-dose
ALSO, virtually ALL meds are an "attractive nuisance" when there are other caregiving persons or kids, in the house.
==I really like the Nanny-cam" suggestion. There are a number of ways to do that., but, many lack resources to do that.
==Better yet, make sure your elder is medicated BEFORE you leave them with strangers....that way, you do not have to leave a whole bottle of pills accessible to the home health workers or kids.

No matter the precautions taken:
----knowledge workers are being recorded is NOT a good deterrent.
----if even only one pill is available to a helper bent on taking it, they will, even if it means the patient goes without.
----any hiding places a bedridden person can access, the helpers can also get at.
----if the patient is in charge of their own meds, they can forget, and mis-dose, which could kill them.

Families can report like this to the agencies providing home helpers:
"CAN your agency please set up a nanny-cam to help learn what is happening at our house? I am concerned: meds are missing.
IF the agency cannot set up nanny-cams, what other devices can be used, to prevent the elder from overdosing, or prevent others taking the meds?"
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My Mother (no dementia) still takes her own pills, but she keeps a tablet next to the pain pills and writes down the time she takes each one. That way there is no "forgetting". She will even come to me and tell me, "I just took a pill and wrote it down". If she only says, "I just took a pill" I'll ask her if she wrote it down. She had also been known to write it down and then leave it sitting on the counter.
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You mentioned she has some confusion. Is it possible she took too many? Perhaps she did not recall that she had already taken one? And if they are in a box with her other meds she takes per day, you might want to look to see if any other meds are missing or out of order. Start with the person who the meds are prescribed to first. Then if you can see that she is taking them as prescribed, start looking at your workers that come into the home. But like everyone else, lock them up. Put them someplace only you and her know. But make sure you absolutely know. Since she has confusion already, it is too easy because I have seen my own mother do this, to take more than she is supposed to. You may also have the possibility that she is intentionally taking more than she is supposed to and is trying to put blame on or make it look like someone else is to blame. But you need to take control of her meds. And no offense, but I have also seen the adult child, sibling and grandchildren take meds from the person prescribed. ANY med that is being taken by a person whom it is not prescribed to, is committing an illegal act. I am talking strictly about prescribed meds. I am not talking about OTC meds or supplements but if those are missing, you might want to look into why they are used to begin with. Such as pseudofed tablets due to people stealing those to make meth with. It is all too easy for a person who sees a prescription bottle to take it and run with it or take tablets out of it. ESPECIALLY if the person is a senior with confusion. Because then the rouse is that that person either took too many, or forgot where they put the bottle at. And with prescription abuse off the charts in things to be stolen... you have to look at all angles. Like I said, no offense meant. But if it is you and you are caught, you can go to jail over it. I have seen it all being a medic and it still amazes me to no end how people do not realize they are putting themselves at risk for items to be stolen and people take advantage of others who are incapacitated.
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Thirdkid, Mom was abusing her zanax when she first started signs of dementia, but she was smart enough to set her alarm for when she would need it next! She just started to forget all kinds of things. Best to keep all meds away from anyone suspected of dementia. They have no sense of time, or day.
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you can get one of those pill dispensing machines
Google epill
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The street value of some of these meds can be $12 a pill or more. So, like the other person said, look at them as cash. You wouldn't leave that lying out on the dresser.

I also agree with the person who suggested you carefully look at whether your mom should be taking strong painkillers at this point. Doctors whip out the prescription pad without a second thought and becoming dependent is a shockingly quick process for some patients. If your mom is 'over the hump' of the initial injury, try other methods of pain relief and over-the-counter drugs to deal with the chronic pain or she may quickly become a chronic drug user. And, that sure won't help with the dementia and depression.
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deefer12, you are right. Many people take additional medication unawares.
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Good advice from everyone. Your Mom may be confused by the medication itself and may have taken more without remembering. If it's possible, you keep them and take them to her when needed. If not, leave only the next one she needs with her or the caregiver and explain that you think she may have taken extra without realizing. This will let them know you are aware that some were missing and you are keeping an eye out! Had the same issue here with a nephew stealling clonapen from Mom's bottle.
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I agree with everyone else! Lock it up. Mother is on a vast array of medication. Since she chews her medicines, the doctor has her on liquid hydrocodone. I keep the active bottle on the kitchen counter, and the additional bottles locked up in the medicine cabinet, along with her other medications. That keeps everyone honest. I still have to be careful, because many people want "just a swig" and I have to tell them no. That is her medication, not a method for others to get high.
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Thank you all very good advice, I am a newbie to this so I am sure I will have more questions. Very difficult juggling 3 younger kids and an elderly mother. I appreciate the support.
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By all means, lock them up. You wouldn't leave a $50. Bill laying on your dashboard, would you?
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I had this happen before. My dad was on hydrocodone and fortunately he took them very little. My 28 yr old nephew stole 70 of them and sold them at street value for 5.00 a piece. The Dr had prescribed 120 of them per mth. I guess my nephew thought us "Old People" wouldn't notice that a large amount were gone. I couldn't prove he took them so the police couldn't arrest him. Mths later he is in our home gain this time to use our computer. The person sitting with dad had no knowledge of our past experience with him and let him in. He only stayed in the livingroom on the computer for 10 minutes and in that time he picked up a whole bottle of Ativan and left with it. I later found out that he didn't even know what it was.. he just took it. Again to sell. He only later confessed after being admitted to a drug rehab center. Lock up the medication. You never know someones secrets (drug habit, sells drugs etc) even family members.
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Locking them up is absolutely needed. Your mom shouldn't be in possession of them especially if she is forgetful. Keep them out of the reach of everybody. Yes, inmeshed, away from teens or in our case a 45 year old brother-in-law who'll steal meds or anything else for that matter that isn't under lock and key. A word to the wise, paid caregivers are virtual strangers in your home and a nanny cam is a valuable tool.
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For everyones sake, keep valuables and narcotics locked up. Give her the pain med yourself, or leave just one or two or what needs to be taken if you aren't there. This eliminates the temptation from her or others taking them. It is possible she could be confused from taking the meds and not remember taking them, but in any event, locking them up along with anything else that could be taken is what I would do and saves hurt feelings.
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She shouldn' have access to those. They should be locked up. The dr just threw pain mEDS at my mom (89 who has lived w me for 10 yrs). Combo of muscle relaxers and hydrocodone ended with her in a mental facility for a week to detox. We are able to make do w tylenol. It has been my experience that if teenagers are around meds go missing (no matter how good you have raised them). The temptation to use or sell hydrocodone is too great. Bottles should read "keep out of reach of teens."
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yes if you have caretakers in your home when you are not there, I would set up a nanny cam and let the workers know that they are being recorded, that should defer them from stealing, you can tell them there is a camera in every room even is there isn't. hope this helps
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