Those at higher risk include people more than 75 years old, people taking oral steroids, and people taking a blood-thinning medication such as apixaban (Eliquis), aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Savaysa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), or warfarin (Coumadin).
Table. 2015 American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults
Warfarin is one of the most common causes of medication-related hospitalizations in older adults. To reduce the risk of serious problems, one may need to apply extra care in monitoring warfarin effect (via the prothrombin blood test) and extra care in checking for interactions when a new drug is prescribed.
Talk with your healthcare provider if a medication you are taking is in the AGS Beers Criteria®. Ask if there might be a safer or more effective alternative. Keep in mind that if a medication you take is on the AGS Beers Criteria®, it still may be a reasonable choice for you.
In one study, 19 percent of 2508 community-dwelling older adults were using one or more medications inappropriately; NSAIDs and benzodiazepines were the drug classes with the most potential problems .
Anticholinergic drugs should be avoided in patients with dementia, cognitive impairment, or delirium. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine noted that higher cumulative anticholinergic medication use was associated with an increased risk for dementia.
Some drug categories (eg, analgesics, anticoagulants, antihypertensives, antiparkinsonian drugs, diuretics, hypoglycemic drugs, psychoactive drugs) pose special risks for older adults. Some drugs, although reasonable for use in younger adults, are so risky they should be considered inappropriate for older adults.
Other strategies may be used to prevent medication errors in older adults during various points in the medication use system, including:
Memory: Senior simply forget to take their medications. Need: 40% of elderly patients do not know the purpose of their medication. Some do not take them because they don’t feel good, others stop taking because they feel good. Volume: too many medications.
Common side effects of medicines in older adults can be dizziness and falls, weight loss or weight gain, and changes in memory or our ability to think and process information. These, in turn, can cause older adults to get hurt and may ultimately lessen their ability to function in day-to-day life.
What to Do if an Elderly Person Falls Down
Medications That Can Cause Falls
However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving this medicine.
Nearly nine in ten (89%) adults 65 and older report they are currently taking any prescription medicine. This compares to three-fourths of 50-64 year olds who report taking prescription drugs, half (51%) of 30-49 year olds, and four in ten (38%) 18-29 year olds.
Increased Sensitivity to Many Drugs: The problems of decreased body size, altered body composition (more fat, less water), and decreased liver and kidney function cause many drugs to accumulate in older people’s bodies at dangerously higher levels and for longer times than in younger people.
The statistics on medication usage among elderly patients in the US are eye-opening: more than one-third of prescriptions drugs used in the US 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