Health Issues in Older Adults

Anyone who has taken prescription drugs knows that they normally come with a comprehensive list of potential adverse side effects to watch for. While prescriptions are, naturally, intended to help us, the harm that can arise from these adverse reactions can often be even worse than the benefits we receive.

For the elderly, the vast majority of whom take a number of medications, the likelihood of having a bad reaction is increased. However, remarkably, over fifty percent of all seniors in a newly released research study experienced negative side effects from a medication without ever reporting them to their medical practitioners. Even more astonishing: when these problems were disclosed, doctors did not always make note of them in the seniors’ medical records.

Seniors specified two primary reasons for not revealing their medication complications:

  • They assumed symptoms were just part of growing older
  • They did not want to inconvenience their doctors

In a similar research study, seniors age 70 and older were given a list of dozens of symptoms and asked whether or not they had experienced any of them in the last 6 months, as well as whether they believed the symptoms could be connected to their medication, if the symptoms had bothered them, whether they had reported the symptoms to their doctors, and if they had needed to be hospitalized because of the symptoms.

A full 78% of individuals who participated in the study revealed symptoms that were clinically identified to be side effects of a prescription drug. And only 39% of those seniors had mentioned their concerns to their physician, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being contained in the seniors’ medical records.

These common medications for older adults, in particular, were reported to have widespread adverse reactions:

  • Antithrombotic agents
  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blocking agents
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Serum lipid-reducing agents

Adverse reactions consisted of bruising, bleeding, indigestion, muscle pain and weakness, dizziness/lightheadedness, coughing, and unsteadiness when standing.

Caitriona Cahir, PhD and a research fellow in the population health sciences division of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin, suggests that seniors, “be provided with concise information resources that describe the purpose of their medication and help them anticipate and recognize adverse drug events and seek appropriate treatment. Adverse drug event interviews with a nurse or pharmacist could be incorporated into patient medication reviews as part of a patient’s ongoing pharmacologic care.”

As a top-rated Des Moines dementia care provider, At-Home Care Company can help as well. Our caregivers provide a watchful eye and ear for older adults, to pick up on any health issues or concerns and document them right away so they can be resolved. We also provide medication reminders, to make sure meds are taken precisely when and how prescribed, preventing missed or doubled doses that may also cause harmful reactions.

Give us a call at (515) 292-2650 to learn more about our home care services in Des Moines and the surrounding communities and to schedule a free in-home consultation.