Have you found yourself eyeing an older person’s medication list, wondering if you should worry?
It’s smart to be concerned, especially if your older relative takes five or more medications. Medications can provide many benefits, but they also can easily cause problems.
The CDC estimates that every year 177,000 older adults visit the emergency room due to medication-related problems. But even medications that don’t prompt ER visits may be causing more harm than good, and researchers have documented that “inappropriate prescribing” is common among seniors.
For all these reasons, a big part of what we do as geriatricians is to regularly review an older person’s medications, for safety and appropriateness.
Now, to properly review medications, you do need to work with clinically trained professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.
But I am a big believer in the idea that well-informed patients and families are key to getting the healthcare work done better.
So I’ve written a two-part article for A Place for Mom, about how you can help an older person get the most out of his or her medication review. Here’s part one:
In this article, I share five medication safety truths that I always keep in mind, and that you should too! They are:
- Fewer medications is often safer.
- Non-drug treatments are usually safer and can be equally effective.
- Medications often get “forgotten.”
- Doctors often prescribe medications that are on the Beers List of medications to avoid or prescribe with caution in older people.
- When considering a particular medication, the goal is to properly weigh the pros and cons, in order to be sure that the likely benefits outweigh the risks and burdens.
To learn more about why I believe it’s so important that patients and families learn these truths, read the full article at A Place for Mom.
And then please tell me what you think, in the comments below.
You can also find more of my articles on medication safety in aging here.