Many family caregivers know that medications can cause side-effects in older people, and may worry that perhaps their loved ones are being affected by medications.
It’s a very reasonable concern to have. Studies have shown that older adults, especially those taking multiple prescription medications, often experience potentially serious side-effects from their medications.
But having talked with many family caregivers over the years, I’ve found that even the savvy ones often haven’t heard of the “Beer’s List.”
What is the Beer’s List?
Technically known as the “American Geriatrics Society Updated Beers Criteria: Medications that Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution,” this is a carefully reviewed list of medications that are “potentially inappropriate” for older adults, and includes many of the medications that we geriatricians tend to stop or reduce in our patients. (Seriously, identifying and reducing these medications is a big part of my clinical practice!)
Although mainly meant to be used as a reference by clinicians, the American Geriatrics Society(AGS) also provides the information in an easier-to-read format here.
What to do if you realize that you or a loved one is taking a potentially risky medication? Conveniently, AGS addresses this very issue and provides a handy online guide on “What to Do and What to Ask Your Healthcare Provider if a Medication You Take is Listed in the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medications to Use in Older Adults.”
If you’re a caregiver: Have you ever used the Beer’s list as a resource? Other ideas for how caregivers can be empowered to check on their loved one’s medications?