Misuse of Antibiotics in Older Adults

The times of going to the physician for a routine antibiotic are done, or will soon be. According to the CDC, an astounding two million people every year are told they have an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a full 23,000 of them die as a consequence. The main cause? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when unnecessary. And, it has been estimated that as many has 50 % of all prescribed antibiotics are not necessary and unhelpful.

According to Lauri Hicks, DO, medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, as well as medical director for the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program, “The reasons for this high frequency of inappropriate prescribing are complex. The most common justifications are diagnostic uncertainty, severe illness, and concern for patient satisfaction during their visit.”

Typically, individuals would request an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection, and health care professionals would agree, even though antibiotics are not effective in managing viral infections. The shift currently is for physicians to recommend over-the-counter medications, together with a delayed prescription – to be filled at a later time if symptoms persist.

For older adults, it is particularly vital to guard against the misuse of antibiotics and ensure they are prescribed only if truly warranted, in order to protect against antibiotic resistance. The CDC advises taking the following actions:

  • Protective measures. Obtain vaccines for influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as recommended. Be thorough in personal cleanliness, such as thorough hand-washing consistently each day, consistently prior to consuming food and immediately following utilizing the bathroom. And, steer clear from close contact with others who are sick.
  • Lessen antibiotic use. It is essential that we all shift our mindset regarding the usage of antibiotics, understanding that while they are truly useful under specific instances, they should be avoided for common viral infections. Talk with a doctor to examine the advantages and drawbacks when an antibiotic is recommended.
  • Make sure any complications are reported. If you do experience antibiotic-resistance, make sure to have your health care provider report it. The CDC is collecting data to record information on antibiotic-resistant infections, reasons for those infections, and risk factors, to be able to assist in preventing or decreasing the number of occurrences.

Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is a continuous process to try and stay in front of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, shares, “We are approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people.”

We should all do our part to help slow this dangerous trend! Get in touch with At-Home Care Company, the Polk County home care experts, for additional information on how we can help, such as by accompanying your senior loved one to healthcare appointments to receive vaccinations, by providing healthy and balanced meals to optimize overall health, and more. Contact us at (515) 292-2650 or (515) 963-4410 to learn about the home care services in your area and to help keep the older adults you love healthy and thriving!

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