As we age, our bodies change and can no longer process medications in the same way as when we were younger. This can lead to problems with medications not working as well as they should, or having unexpected side effects.
If you’re taking care of an older person, you know that they take several medications simultaneously. It might lead you to a few questions: is it safe, or is there no drug interaction? While those are legitimate questions that are very valid, those questions are already answered.
However, drug interactions and safety are just some of the problems older people face while on medication.
With the immune system failing and the several medications that older adults take, it’s a valid question to ask about the different side effects of each medication. However, although most drugs have side effects, nothing is more problematic than side effects that affect an older person’s thinking and balance like ADHD medicine.
There are a few medications that affect these aspects, like anticholinergics. This medication includes one’s for the bladder, allergies, nausea, vertigo, etc. Two of the common ones are Benadryl and Diphenhydramine. However, it’s not limited to these two, extending to any over-the-counter sleeping pills and painkillers.
That’s not all, as other medications can affect an older person’s thinking and balance, such as sedatives and tranquilizers, often prescribed for restlessness and anxiety, which are common conditions older people have. Brand names include Ativan and Ambien.
Geriatricians commonly recommend lowering the dosages of these medications if your loved ones are taking them. This is because these medications can make them prone to trips and falls; as we all know, those things can be fatal for an older adult.
Symptoms Present Even After Treatment
Many older adults start on a drug because they complain about conditions to doctors like heartburn, dizziness, etc., which is normal. But because of, perhaps, stubbornness or a dismissive attitude towards these “small” problems, and the busy nature of a primary care visit, it’s easy for doctors or even patients to follow up on these symptoms, especially if they are gone for the moment.
This can lead to the starter dose not being adjusted according to the regularity of these symptoms. In this situation, older adults tend to run the risk of taking more or less than the dosage needed for these symptoms. Not only that, but they are also incurring a cost for these medications, while in reality, they don’t need them anymore.
The worst-case scenario, however, is that the symptoms are still persistent, especially if the person taking it takes less than the right dosage. In this case, you should always follow up with your doctor about every symptom, especially for the one you’re taking medications for. Even if they’re not following it up, it’s still a part of your responsibility as a patient.
A lot of drugs interact with each other. While some of them can be benign, it’s still a concern, especially for older adults with weakened immune systems. One of the most common ones is warfarin, a blood thinner paired with antibiotics. Although this can be risky, it’s still common practice for doctors to prescribe these medications when necessary.
However, you should also note that warfarin is one of the most common causes of medication-related problems in older adults, often leading to hospitalization. To reduce this risk of complications, you should monitor carefully if the older person is taking warfarin correctly. Also, you should take note of the additional medications that they are taking and ask your doctor if it’s safe.
A lot of older adults take a lot of medications in a single day. So it’s no wonder they sometimes miss taking a single piece of medication. You should monitor the medications they are taking, especially with the scheduling. Some of the medications are important for an older adult’s everyday life. It’s a huge hassle but a task that should not be taken lightly.
Cost of Medication
One of the most common reasons older adults sometimes stop taking their medicine is the cost. Each medicine can cost a fortune, especially if they take it daily, along with a few others.
That said, there are a lot of online sites out there that can help you get discounts and promotions for specific medications like warfarin, antibiotics, ADHD medication, and more. They even have delivery perks that can come in handy if you’re the only person caring for your loved ones.
Taking care of an older adult can be stressful because of many things. However, seeing them move about and bond with us each day is well worth it. Their time right now is limited, so we should make sure to address their problems, especially with medication, so they live their remaining years in peace with us.