It is eye-opening to see the statistics on medication usage among elderly patients in the United States: more than one-third of prescription drugs used in the United States are taken by elderly patients; the ambulatory elderly fill between 9-13 prescriptions a year (including new prescriptions and refills); the average elderly patient is taking an average of six medications.
Utilization of Prescription Medication by Older Adults (Fact Sheet). Among older persons, adverse responses to medication can be quite significant, resulting in falls and other injuries, melancholy, disorientation or hallucinations, and starvation. Because of the high expense of medications, nearly one in every four older persons misses doses or does not fill prescriptions.
For individuals who use at least five medications, this figure more than doubles, nearing four million people. In England, more than one in every ten adults over the age of 65 takes at least eight different prescription drugs on a weekly basis, and this figure rises to one in every four people over the age of 85.
Over adults (those 65 and older) had the greatest prescription medication expenses. The expenditures on drugs are particularly high among the elderly population. The typical yearly prescription medicine costs for those aged 80 and beyond are over 1.5 times greater than those for people aged 50 to 64, as an example (see Figure 3).
The majority of older persons (almost 90 percent) routinely use at least one prescription medicine, nearly 80 percent regularly take at least two prescription drugs, and 36 percent regularly take at least five prescription drugs. When over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements are taken into consideration, these percentages rise even more.
Adults 65 and over are nearly nine out of ten (89 percent) who claim that they are presently taking any prescription medication. Comparatively, 34% of 50-64 year olds report taking prescription medicines, 50% of 30-49 year olds report taking prescription drugs, and four in ten (18-29 year olds) report taking prescription medications.
According to a Consumer Reports poll, those who use a prescription medicine take an average of four pills each day, and many additionally take over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and other dietary supplements on top of that.
Medication Overload Is a Serious Problem More than four out of ten older persons use five or more prescription prescriptions every day, a figure that has more than tripled in the last twenty years. Almost one-fifth of the population uses ten or more medicines.
Researchers estimate that 25 percent of persons between the ages of 65 and 69 use at least five prescription medicines to address chronic diseases, a rate that rises to roughly 46 percent for those between the ages of 70 and 79, according to the researchers.
Among people in the United States aged 40–79, 69.0 percent had used one or more prescription medications in the previous 30 days, with 22.4 percent having used five or more prescription drugs (Figure 1).
Americans over the age of 65 (87 percent) are even more likely than those between the ages of 50 and 64 years to report that they use a prescription medicine on a regular basis (67 percent ). Prescription medicines are used on an average by four different people every day, according to those who claim they are now using them on a regular basis.
According to a 2020 analysis from the independent think tank Lown Institute, more than 40 percent of older Americans regularly use five or more prescription medicines, with over 20 percent using ten or more.
In accordance with recent research, the typical older adult consumes four or more prescription medications per day, with a startling 39 percent of seniors consuming five or more prescription medications per day. Despite the fact that each was developed to treat or manage a specific medical condition, it also carries its own set of dangers and side effects.
Overdose, underdosage, improper therapy, poor monitoring, nonadherence, and drug interactions are all prevalent drug-related difficulties in older persons. These problems include ineffectiveness of medications as well as unpleasant drug effects. (See also Overview of Drug Therapy in Older Adults for further information.)
In 2015–2016, 45.8 percent of the population of the United States had taken prescription medications within the previous 30 days. The usage of prescription drugs grew with age, rising from 18.0 percent of children under the age of 12 to 85.0 percent of individuals over the age of sixty-five.
As a result of having many chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis, older adults are more prone than younger people to take more prescription medications. The majority of medications used by older adults to treat chronic diseases are used for years at a time.
Despite the fact that there are many various classifications for this demographic, some studies have classed elderly persons between the ages of 65 and 74 years as youngest-old, those between the ages of 75 and 84 years as middle-old, and those beyond 85 years as oldest-old, respectively.
However, using an excessive number of prescription prescriptions might be dangerous. Polypharmacy refers to the use of more than five drugs at the same time. When you take additional prescriptions, you increase your chances of experiencing negative side effects, drug interactions, and hospitalizations.