As we approach old age, you must assess specific health issues with proper long-term treatment and regular medications. Unfortunately, the chances of unwanted side effects also increase manifold as the immune system may slow down, and the body may react negatively to certain drugs.
Common Problems Faced By Older Adults Due To Medication
- Affect The Thinking Process And Body Balance
There are a few drugs that can affect the thinking process and body balance in elders. Typically anticholinergic drugs that treat overactive bladder, allergies, nausea, vertigo, sleep disorders, nerve pain, and depression cause these side effects. In addition, they increase the chances of imbalance in the body resulting in falls.
- Drug Treatment Is Ineffective
Older people often take drugs for specific problems like pain, acidity, or depression. But they generally don’t tend to follow the medication routine as prescribed, leading to other side effects.
- Drug Mixing Reactions
You must avoid certain drugs with other medications. Mixing these drugs may lead to severe complications. Therefore, you need to be extra cautious and monitor the side effects carefully.
- Common Side-effects Of Drugs In Older People
Blood pressure is one of the most common diseases faced by older adults. It requires regular medication to keep the blood pressure under control. Unfortunately, traditional BP medicines may lead to dizziness. Another standard prescription is to control blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar level falls suddenly after taking insulin, it may have severe repercussions, including cognitive imbalance and heart failure.
- Taking Medications Multiple Times A Day Is A Big Burden
At times, older people may need to take several medicines per day. However, it is a hassle to remember the timings and take the medication regularly. If they are unable to take the pills timely, it can cause severe effects on their health.
Apart from side effects, the monthly bills of medicines are also a matter of concern. It is a burden on the financial space, leading to skipping doses and resulting in further problems.
Medicines To Be Avoided Or Taken With Caution
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
These drugs are common pain relievers and reduce inflammation. However, you must avoid the regular and long-term use of these drugs. Overuse use of these medicines may lead to bleeding risks, increased blood pressure, stomach ulcers, kidney problems, or heart failure. People taking steroids or blood-thinning tablets are at a higher risk of such side effects. In addition, it can aggravate your kidney and heart-related ailments.
- Digoxin/ Lanoxin
These medicines are to treat heart ailments and irregular heartbeats. However, a very high dose of such drugs may increase toxins in the body. Therefore, you need to be very cautious if you have a previous kidney disease history.
- Diabetes Medicines
You must avoid certain drugs like Glyburide and chlorpropamide as they can cause very low blood sugar levels that can prove fatal.
- Muscle Relaxants
Older adults must avoid certain muscle relaxants like Methocarbamol, Cyclobenzaprine, and Carisoprodol. Its regular dosage can lead to mental disorders and make you feel dizzy and confused. It can also cause constipation, dry mouth, and problems in urination.
- Certain Drugs Used To Treat Anxiety Or Insomnia
Certain drugs like Benzodiazepines, Alprazolam, and Chlordiazepoxide may increase the risk of falls as it leads to disbalance of the body. Regular use of sleeping pills can also cause dizziness during the daytime and carry the effect into the day.
Certain medications given as antidepressants or treating Parkinson’s or irritable bowel syndrome can cause confusion, dry mouth, constipation, irregular urination, and blurry vision.
- Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products
Older people must avoid OTC medicines used to treat coughs, allergies, and colds. You must also avoid OTC sleep drugs and talk to your doctor before taking any such medication. These OTC drugs are not risk-free and can lead to confusion, constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, and problems in urination.
- Estrogen Pills
These pills are for menopause-related symptoms or hot flashes. You must avoid them as they increase your risk of blood clots, breast cancer, and dementia.
What Should Older Adults Do?
- Keep A List Of All Of The Drugs Handy
Older people must keep a handy list of non-prescribed and prescribed medicines. The list must also include all the supplements taken. You should always carry this list with you whenever you need to go to a healthcare professional. They will quickly get to know about all the medications and supplements and check for side effects. It will also be easier to prescribe a new medicine. You can also include a list of your allergies, along with the name of the drugs you take.
- Ask For Side Effects From The Healthcare Professional And Be Watchful
You must note any reactions or side effects that the prescribed medicine can cause. If the drug is having a bad reaction, or if it is not working, you need to consult your healthcare professional as soon as possible. They are the best people to guide you through dosage changes and alter the medicines accordingly.
- Lookout For Medicines In The American Geriatrics Society, Beers Criteria
The AGS Beers criteria can guide you through potentially harmful drugs that must be avoided or taken under proper guidance. Then, you can consult your doctor for a suitable, safer, and effective alternative.
It is quite possible that, at times, the prescribed drug may react differently in an older person’s body. So a simple list of medications above can come in handy while you take your medicines. It is a must that you do not consume over-the-counter drugs without a proper prescription. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements. By doing so, you can avoid a lot of potential side effects and risks.