Aging and Medication: Hazards, Health, and Hope

Every new drug formulation, testing phase, and government approval means longer, healthier lives. However, new medicines also bring new problems and the possibility of exacerbating old ones. Aging and medication go hand in hand, but how much do you really know about your prescriptions?

Senior Woman Taking Medication From Pill Box. Aging and medication concept

Aging and Medication: Fast Facts

  • Adults age 65 and older buy 30% of all prescription drugs and 40% of all OTC medications.
  • One in six seniors will suffer an adverse reaction to their medications.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death among the elderly, and many of those falls are related to a drug overdose, missed doses, and adverse drug interactions.
  • Prescription drug abuse is found in about 30% of those between the ages of 65 and 85.
  • Polypharmacy, “defined as the use of multiple drugs or more than are medically necessary, is a growing concern for older adults” and increases the chance of death in the elderly.

90% of the aging population faces a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. However bad the statistics, adding new drugs without careful consideration increases both the chances of bad reactions and abuse.

What do you need to know about aging and medication?

Learning to Ask Questions

The best way to ensure that you or your loved one are getting the right treatments is to ask questions. Educate yourself! Do you know the possible side effects of your heart medication? Do you understand why you should always take a certain pill on an empty stomach? Are your prescriptions compatible? These questions can help you avoid hazards and enjoy the benefits of your medications.

Not sure how to approach your doctor with these questions? Consider a three-way conversation between the patient, the doctor, and a health advocate. The advocate is a friend, relative or healthcare professional who serves as a listener, note-taker (see our blog post “Don’t Worry: I’ll Take Notes For You“), and information seeker. Together, go over which doctors are prescribing which drugs as well as the dosages, side effects, and things to avoid. You should also discuss OTC products such as vitamins and herbal supplements. Additionally, review the patient’s daily routine and health, as well as any physical or cognitive changes.

Drug Interactions: What to Know

Medications interact with other medications and alcohol as well as certain foods. These interactions cause prescriptions to work differently or stop working altogether. Age also changes how drugs work; the aging body has less muscle to absorb medication, so dosage adjustments are sometimes necessary to prevent side effects. Ask your doctor to cover drug interactions for each new prescription you receive.

Missed Doses

Depending on the type of medication and the person’s condition, missed doses of certain medications can result in rapid and serious illness. Time-released drugs, drugs requiring food, and drugs for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, seizure disorders and cancer treatments are critical. Trying to make up a missed dose by doubling it can result in a trip to the emergency room.

There are smartphone reminder apps, charts and calendar reminders available, and for the forgetful, there are smart pill bottles.

 

Our agency’s 33 years of experienced care is reflected in every nurse and administrator on our team. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Helping Seniors Make Lasting Change

Resolutions for Change

Of all the resolutions we make to start the new year, more than half involve becoming healthier: losing weight, eating better, adhering to specific diet, or quitting [insert bad habit here]. And while much is made of how few people achieve their goals, what of those who get it right? The people who drop a dress size, adopt a healthy new routine, eliminate a specific toxic behavior? What constitutes the difference between those who succeed and those who do not? The answer lies not in the resolutions for change we make, but in how we go about realizing life improvements that determines success.

Change in the Elderly

When caring for aging parents or loved ones, a related question might be how to help them adopt new habits when you’re not always there to observe their behavior and offer encouragement—or if they resist making the change. How do we help a loved one overcome a habit that’s bad for their budget, their health, or their general well-being?

TNew Yearshe most common problems the elderly face involve

  • getting enough sleep
  • eating healthfully
  • managing chronic health issues
  • appropriate daily exercise

Making It Happen

When helping an elderly adult make positive life changes, consider the advice of experts. Here are some of their suggestions for creating lasting and effective resolutions for the upcoming year:

  • Focus on one habit change, and make it realistic.
  • Understand the “Golden Rule of Habit Change,” which states that every habit has three components:
  • The cue (or a trigger for an automatic behavior to start),
  • A routine (the behavior itself), and
  • A reward (which is how our brain learns to remember this pattern for the future).
  • Learn to recognize triggers.
  • Replace an old habit with a new one, or associate a specific trigger with a different behavior.
  • Take small realistic steps. Make them manageable and duplicate them every day.
  • Celebrate accomplishments.

Whether the goal is to help a parent manage diabetes or to be active on a daily basis, helping another through these steps may not be easy. However, the outcome—a healthier lifestyle and potentially longer and more productive life—is worth the effort.

David York Agency Can Help

When it’s not possible to spend as much time as you’d like with an aging loved one, David York Agency provides qualified and well-trained healthcare professionals when you need them. Our Certified Home Health Aides (HHA), Certified Personal Health Care Aides (PCA), Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), are available full- or part-time, live-in or -out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Licensed by the New York State Department of Health, we believe your loved one deserves the very best care. Call for a free consultation today, at 877-216-7676 or visit our website like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn, google+ or Twitter.