People age 65 and older make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 34 percent of all prescription medication use and 30 percent of all over-the-counter medication use.
Medication use in the elderly statistics
According to data from population studies in the United States, 90% of the elderly consume at least a weekly medication, over 55% of women and 44% of men of advanced age consume five medications or more, and 40% of residents in nursing homes consume over eight weekly medications. 4,5,16Cited by:
Approximately 44% of men and 57% of women older than 65 years take five or more nonprescription and/or prescription medications per week, and 12% of persons in this age group take 10 or more nonprescription and/or prescription medications per week.
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.
Between 1988 and 2010 the median number of prescription medications used among adults aged 65 and older doubled from 2 to 4, and the proportion taking ≥ 5 medications tripled from 12.8% (95% confidence interval: 11.1, 14.8) to 39.0% (35.8, 42.3).
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.
About 350,000 patients each year need to be hospitalized for further treatment after emergency visits for adverse drug events. People typically take more medicines as they age, and the risk of adverse events may increase as more people take more medicines .
Higher levels of care are for residents who need more hands-on assistance from caregivers. These residents may not be able to ambulate independently and need help walking or wheeling from one place to another. Residents need more extensive help dressing, bathing, or managing their toileting or incontinence.
Polypharmacy occurs when a patient takes too many medications for their own good. It is most common among seniors and individuals with multiple medical conditions. Since older people metabolize drugs differently, the combined effects of numerous medications can be especially harmful.
Experts specializing in eldercare gave their best tips for the more than 65 million family caregivers in the United States to help their loved ones manage their medication : Make A List. Minimize Medications If Possible. Use the ‘Brown Bag’ Method. Pill Boxes Work Best. Develop Good Habits. Use One Pharmacy.
Drugs to Be Used With Caution in Older Adults (Based on the American Geriatrics Society 2015 Beers Criteria Update) Carbamazepine . Carboplatin . Cyclophosphamide. Cisplatin. Mirtazapine. Oxcarbazepine. Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Vincristine .
All 50 states and Washington DC’s Medicaid programs cover the majority of the cost of prescription drugs for participants. Program participants are usually required to make small co-payments (also referred to as share of cost ) for their medications . Per prescription co-payments range from as low as $.
Among survey respondents, 75 percent of take a prescription medication on a regular basis, with an even higher percentage for those ages 65 and older. Of these, over 80 percent take at least two prescription drugs and over 50 percent take four or more.
The presence of polypharmacy puts elderly persons at risk for herb- drug interactions . Over the past decade, the use of OTCs has been increasing, with 31-96% of adults age 65 and older using them. The most commonly used classes of OTC medications include analgesics, laxatives, and vitamins and minerals.
4. 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.