Community Blog

When Seniors Pop Too Many Pills

By Ketan Patel

Almost a third of hospital admissions result from the effects of drug interactions, and every year thousands of seniors sustain hip fractures as the result of dizziness induced by overmedication. Many of these same seniors are also on the road. According to the American Association of Consultant Pharmacists, some people ages 65-69 take 15 prescription medications per year, and people over the age of 80 take even more. Fortunately, seniors with in-home caretakers have the support they need if they run into trouble with medication.

A Serious Drug Problem

“Polypharmacy” is now recognized as a major drug problem in the United States. A Veterans Affairs study of elderly patients found that almost half the subjects were taking drugs unnecessarily. The issue is serious, and taking over-the-counter drugs only makes matters worse. An increasing trend toward prescribing multiple pharmaceuticals has been linked to an increased risk of death.

Seniors and Drugs

Older patients who suffer from diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular issues are often prescribed drugs by their doctors. When seniors complain of side effects, they may be given yet another drug to counteract the symptom. Sometimes lifestyle changes like a better diet and more exercise are effective in reducing the risk of disorders like heart disease. Because older seniors metabolize drugs more slowly than younger people, they are more likely to suffer adverse effects.

Solving the Problem

Some doctors are starting to pay more attention to the medication their patients are using with an eye toward taking them off some prescription pharmaceuticals. The AGS Beers Criteria or “Beers List” issued by the American Geriatrics Society is a list of potentially inappropriate medication for use in older adults. The Beers List highlights medications that have a greater potential risk than the potential benefit for people age 65 and older. However, the Beers List is not meant as a substitute for the professional judgment of a physician. Some commonly used medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen appear on the list. The list is reviewed and updated periodically and its mission is to promote “deprescribing” unnecessary medications in the elderly.

Home Care Services for Seniors

The home care providers at Home Helpers of South Shore can help your loved one by monitoring medication, preparing meals, and helping with bathing and dressing. A caregiver can provide transportation for social activities and scheduled doctor’s appointments, and help out if an emergency occurs.

Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one. Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care, or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.

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Abington , Braintree , Brockton , Buzzards Bay , Carver , Cohasset, Dighton , Duxbury , Falmouth , Halifax , Hanson , Hingham , Holbrook , Hull , Humarock , Kingston , Lakeville , Marshfield , Mashpee , Middleboro , Norwell , Pembroke , Plymouth , Plympton , Quincy , Randolph , Rockland , Sandwich , Scituate , Taunton , Wareham , Weymouth , Whitman