Older people tend to take more drugs than younger people because they are more likely to have more than one chronic medical disorder, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis. Most drugs used by older people for chronic disorders are taken for years.
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.
Elderly people are at a greater risk for adverse drug reactions (ADRs) because of the metabolic changes and reduced drug clearance associated with ageing; this risk is furthermore exacerbated by increasing the number of drugs used. Potential of drug-drug interactions is further increased by use of multiple drugs.
What Older Adults Can Do to Manage Medications
Prescription drug expenditures are highest for people age 65 and older. Drug expen-ditures are particularly high for the oldest adults. For example, average annual prescription drug expenditures for people age 80 and older are almost 1.5 times higher than those for people age 50 to 64 (see Figure 3).
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.
Alcohol Use Despite increasing rates of illicit and prescription drug misuse among adults older than 65 years,5,6,10 alcohol remains the most commonly used substance among older adults.
Elderly individuals have the potential to exhibit sensitivity to a broad range of substances. This is due to internal biological changes associated with the aging body, present state of health, and genetic predisposition.
Polypharmacy is common among elderly persons because of the need to treat the various disease states that develop with age. Although the deprescribing of unnecessary medications is a way of limiting polypharmacy, the underprescribing of effective therapies in older patients is a concern.
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.
When patients are not experiencing desirable outcomes from their treatment regimen, Medication Management allows experienced healthcare providers to evaluate not only the list of medications the patient is taking, but also their use of vitamins and other supplements to understand how these different drugs interact to
The most common reasons for patient non-compliance to medications are intentional and include: high drug costs, fear of adverse events, being prescribed multiple medications, and experiencing either instant relief or medication ineffectiveness leading to self-discontinuation of medications.
The countries that spend the most on prescription medication
People 65 and older pay the most for prescription drug expenditures (Health Policy Institute, 2021). Annual prescription drug expenditures are 1.5 times higher for adults aged 80 and older than for younger adults (Health Policy Institute, 2021).