For many older people, taking medications for ensuing ailments may appear to become a routine. As we age, we tend to acquire health conditions that may require medication management. However, drug therapy for an older person can be a challenge for more than one reason.
Major issues may be related to more than one of the following:
- Altered ( usually lowered) metabolism in old age. Because of this, medications may not be broken down ( usually by the liver) or washed off ( usually by the kidneys) efficiently and that may result in toxicity.
- Many older patients may be on, and usually are, on more than one medication. This so-called polypharmacy subjects them to drug-to-drug-interactions that may result in serious complications.
- Altered orientation or mental status issues including memory loss may result in an accidental overdose.
Prescribing drugs for older patients needs to be done very carefully by a well trained medical provider and taking in to account all these and related issues.
Following is a partial list of potential risks of commonly prescribed medications and alternatives that may be utilized.
Medical providers that manage older patients are taught to take into consideration the issues enumerated above. This partial list is for general education purposes only. The patients or their caregivers should not make any changes to their medications on their own and should consult a healthcare provider to discuss possible changes as required to avoid the inherent risks.