As you get older, your weakening immune system and diseases may require you to take medication. Sometimes, you will have to take a lot of them, and it can be potentially harmful if you do not know what they are for and what to expect when you are taking a lot of drugs. Hence, this article aims to discuss some key concepts and facts you need to know about medicines for older adults.
Facts About Medicines for Older Adults
- Seniors use more medicines—prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements—than any other age group in the U.S.
- Older adults often use multiple medicines, increasing the risk of drug interactions and the potential for side effects.
- Your liver and kidneys may not work as well as when you were younger. The decreased function can affect how medicine works, is absorbed, broken down, and removed from the body.
- Medicines may stay in the body longer and cause side effects if doses are not properly adjusted.
- Age-related changes such as weight loss, decreased body fluid, and increased fatty tissue can alter the way drugs are distributed and concentrated in the body.
- Increased sensitivity to medicines is more common in older adults.
- Impaired memory, hearing, and vision make it difficult to understand and remember instructions, especially for those with complicated regimens. Many older Americans also face declining grip strength, mobility, and memory lapses—all of which can affect the ability to take medication as prescribed.
- Older adults tend to receive prescriptions from different healthcare professionals, making it difficult to track medicines and identify drug interactions, harmful doses, and ineffective medicines.
- Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis are more common in older adults and often require a complex medication regimen.
The good news is, many of these risks or challenges can be prevented if you are informed about safe and appropriate medication use and how to get the most from your medications.
Tips to prevent problems
- Learn about your health conditions and medicines. Talk with healthcare providers, read trustworthy websites, join support groups.
- Maintain a medication list with:
- Medication names including OTCs, supplements, herbal remedies
- Who prescribed each prescription?
- The purpose of each medication and symptoms it should treat
- How often and at what dose you take each
- Are refills needed?
- Update the list when you take something new, if the medicine is stopped or if your dosage changes. Your provider should review your medications, so you are only taking those you need. Discuss allergies or problems you have had with medicines. Do not stop taking prescriptions without checking with them first.
- Read the Drug Facts label, package inserts, or Patient Medicine Information leaflets which tell you:
- What the medicine is for
- How to take your medicine
- How often you should take it and what dosage
- Side effects or allergic reactions
- Warnings including who should not take medicine, when to stop use and ask a doctor, who is at increased risks of side effects
- Storage instructions
- Use one pharmacy so your pharmacist can monitor your medications and check for drug interactions.
- Safely store medicines. Check expiration dates. Keep medications in the bottle/tube they came in, so dosage and directions are at hand. Keep medicines up and away from children. Never share your prescriptions or take others’ medications.
- Contact your provider if you have problems with your medicine.
- Identify a “patient navigator.” Ask your primary care physician to act as “navigator” for the healthcare system so one person/practice can ensure your conditions and treatment regimens are tracked. Medicare’s Medication Therapy Management Program helps healthcare professionals fulfill this role.
As you get older, you will need to be extra careful about the foods you eat. Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables as they are the primary sources of vitamins and minerals. Never be short on the health benefits of fruits, vegetables, and herbs again by taking Life Enzyme from Orgaanics.