Drug Precautions for Seniors

America’s senior citizens need to use some precaution when taking prescription and nonprescription drugs. As people age, they lose water and muscle tissue changes to fat, the digestive system, liver, kidney and metabolism slows down. All of these contribute to the body’s inability to affectively absorb medication.

Seniors, over the age of 60 accounted for more than half of about 68% of medication errors reported to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) between 1993 and 1998. Some reasons for the errors were physicians prescribing the wrong medication, pharmacists confusing medications, package or labeling mistakes, miscommunication between doctors and patients and patients not following directions. That’s 2.3 million seniors often rushed to the emergency room year after year because of medication errors!

In addition to those surprising numbers, in July of 2004, HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals released results of a shocking study. The study results estimated that 195,000 U.S. medicare recipients died due to serious errors while hospitalized, that quite possibly could have been prevented.

Surprisingly when a new drug is introduced to the market, manufacturers usually don’t use a test sample of seniors and often don’t know what kinds of effects the drug will have on seniors. Some over the counter drugs have negative effects when taken with prescriptions, always ask a pharmacist what drugs can be coupled with another for good results.

Simple over the counter medications like antacids should not be taken with prescriptions for Parkinsons disease, high blood pressure and heart disease because they just don’t mix. Aspirin mixed with blood thinners, these will thin the blood too much. Laxatives are often misused, they should only be taken a couple of times a month and if taken too much, the bowels can become dependent on laxatives to function.

Seniors should use caution when prescribed any new drug. Seniors should know what the drug is for, the side affects, if the drug is addictive or nonhabit forming and if you don’t feel safe with a particular drug…….ask the doctor for an alternate solution if any. Seniors should always keep a list of prescribed medications with them at all times to better assist doctors in case of an emergency. Using the same pharmacy to fill prescriptions is a good idea because pharmacists are better able to catch any errors when they know a patients condition and prescriptions normally taken.

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