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.

How Much Do You Know About Aging?

Did you know that the median annual cost of a nursing home in the US is $87,600?   Did you also know that the median annual cost of a home health aide in the US is $45,000? Based on a recent study by Genworth, this interactive map can help you figure out the costs of varying forms of eldercare in every U.S. state.

QuizAs part of a yearlong project about aging and planning for the changes, the Next Avenue Website has a quiz full of statistics regarding long-term care concepts and costs. These facts and many more can be found on this short but informative online quiz which you can take by clicking here.

Unfortunately, as one ages, it is often more and more difficult to manage and care for your own personal needs. To ease the burden so that seniors can age in place, there are in-home health care providers like David York Agency that can provide home health aides for personal care and household services for individuals who need assistance with the activities of daily living. Their qualified home health aides’ goal is to care for your parent or loved one so they are comfortable, safe and secure.

David York Agency can help you to develop a plan to accommodate changes in your parents’ health. They thoroughly respect the wishes of your aging parent and involve the total family in deciding and implementing the care plan. This minimizes the anxiety and stress that occurs when quick decisions have to be made. Contact us today by visiting and visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages. You can also call us at 718.376.7755 where a nurse is standing by to take your call.