An illiterate elderly woman from Tainan in Taiwan, who complained of being strangely tired during the day, was later found to have taken sleeping pills mistakenly with the help of her Indonesian caregiver.

The 70-year-old woman surnamed Lin, whose adult children work in northern Taiwan and return home to look after her only during holidays, was recently sleeping during the day while failing to fall asleep at night, the Udn Daily News reported on the weekend.

The woman’s children went through her prescription and were shocked to learn that their caregiver had mixed up the pills and was giving their mother the night’s sleeping pills after breakfast.

In order to avoid future confusion, they immediately wrote notes in native Indonesian so that the foreign caregiver could understand and refer to.

Chen Lih-Ren, a chemist from Tainan, agreed that prescriptions should also be printed in foreign languages on top of traditional Chinese and English, as many elderly patients in Taiwan have foreign caregivers who look after them.

Chen said he would propose that the Taiwan Pharmacist Association should write to the Ministry of Health and Welfare about the issue.

Public health officials for Tainan City government noted that they would reflect public concern on the matter to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Meanwhile, they would explore the possibility of issuing prescriptions in other languages with hospitals and private clinics.