Medication safety essential for seniors

June 11, 2014
Medication safety essential for seniors
Drug interactions, other problems more likely with age, FDA cautions.

(HealthDay)— Seniors need to take extra care with both prescription and over-the-counter medications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

As people get older, many begin to take multiple medications. This can increase their risk for potentially dangerous drug interactions. Plus, keeping track of multiple medications and taking them exactly as prescribed can be a challenge, the FDA cautions.

"As a society, we have become reliant on pharmaceuticals to help us attain a longer and higher-quality life. It's a wonderful success of Western medicine," Rear Admiral (Ret.) Dr. Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the agency's Office of New Drugs, said in an FDA news release.

"The goal should be for each of us to access that benefit but respect that medicines are serious business. To get the most out of them, you should take them with great care and according to directions," noted Kweder.

One worry with medications is the natural changes that occur in the body with age. These changes may cause medication to be absorbed differently. If you have reduced kidney function, this could affect how some medications are broken down or excreted from your body, the FDA cautioned. Age-related changes in your digestive system can also affect how quickly medication enters your bloodstream.

"There is no question that physiology changes as we age. Many chronic conditions don't even appear until our later years," explained Kweder. "It's not that people are falling to pieces; some changes are just part of the normal aging process."

There are ways that older adults can ensure their safety when taking medication. The FDA provided the following tips to help prevent dangerous situations and potentially harmful interactions:

  • Follow Doctor's Orders: It's important to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first - even if you feel fine. If you are experiencing unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor right away.

    "Medication can't work unless you take it," Kweder noted. "For instance, medications that treat chronic conditions such as and diabetes typically only work when taken regularly and as directed. You have to take them continuously to maintain control over your condition."

    It's also important to take the correct dose of your medication. Do not skip doses or take twice as much for a missed dose. The amount of medication you are prescribed is based on research reviewed by the FDA.

    "Every medicine is really different and is dosed according to what's been tested," Kweder added.

  • Keep Track of Your Medications: It's a good idea to keep a list of all the medications you are taking. Be sure to record the dosage of these drugs. You should also write down how often and when you take your medications. It may also be helpful to give a copy of this list to a friend or relative in case of an emergency.

    "You should know your medicines better than the doctor does," said Kweder.

  • Do Your Homework: if you take more than one medication they can interact. That means one medication can interfere with how another medication works. Certain foods or alcohol can also affect medications you are taking. Some drugs may be potentially harmful if you have certain medication conditions.

    It's important to read all the information that comes with your medications, including drug facts labels. Be sure to discuss any special instruction with your doctor. If you have more than one doctor, be sure to tell each one about all of the medications you are taking.

  • Get a Medication Check Up: At least once a year, review your medications with your doctor. Confirm whether or not you still need to be taking each drug. You can also ask your doctor if a cheaper or more effective drug has become available.

Explore further: Blood pressure drugs help keep heart trouble at bay, FDA says

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on drug safety.

Related Stories

Blood pressure drugs help keep heart trouble at bay, FDA says

May 6, 2014
(HealthDay)—High blood pressure affects about one-third of American adults and raises their risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and death, but there are many medications available to lower blood ...

Tips for new moms on Mother's day

May 9, 2014
(HealthDay)—To mark Mother's Day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is offering new moms tips and advice as they begin their journey into parenthood.

Doubling up on cold, flu remedies may harm liver

January 30, 2013
(HealthDay)—Taking too much acetaminophen, an active ingredient in many commonly used drugs for fever and pain relief, including Tylenol, can cause liver damage, experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warn.

FDA panel says no to over-the-counter allergy drug singulair

May 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—A panel of expert advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday voted overwhelmingly against moving the allergy drug Singulair from prescription to over-the-counter status.

The ABC's of managing your medications

April 22, 2014
If you take several prescription medications, over-the-counter products, or herbal supplements for various medical conditions, it can be difficult to manage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 82 ...

Weight-loss drug awaiting FDA approval combines antidepressant, addiction medications

June 11, 2014
On Wednesday, June 11, a new prescription weight-loss medication that combines a popular antidepressant with a medication for addiction will be reviewed by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for potential approval.

Recommended for you

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Study suggests ending opioid epidemic will take years

July 20, 2017
The question of how to stem the nation's opioid epidemic now has a major detailed response. A new study chaired by University of Virginia School of Law Professor Richard Bonnie provides extensive recommendations for curbing ...

Team-based model reduces prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent

July 17, 2017
A new, team-based, primary care model is decreasing prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent, according to a new study out of Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, which ...

Private clinics' peddling of unproven stem cell treatments is unsafe and unethical

July 7, 2017
Stem cell science is an area of medical research that continues to offer great promise. But as this week's paper in Science Translational Medicine highlights, a growing number of clinics around the globe, including in Australia, ...

Popular heartburn drugs linked to higher death risk

July 4, 2017
Popular heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia. Now, a new study from Washington University School ...

Most reproductive-age women using opioids also use another substance

June 30, 2017
The majority of reproductive-age and pregnant women who use opioids for non-medical purposes also use at least one other substance, ranging from nicotine or alcohol to cocaine, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.