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Elderly ‘Poisoned’ By Too Many Medications

Because little is known about the correct dosage for older patients and how different drugs react to each other, The Guardian reports the elderly are often “poisoned” with excess medication or combined drug reactions — called drug-drug reactions.

elderly

Drug dosage is tested in younger populations who do not have multiple diseases. Tests are not done on those over 60, according to the report, even though liver and kidney function declines as a person ages and senior citizens tend to have more adverse drug reactions than younger people.

More than half of American adults are regularly taking prescription medications and those numbers continue to climb. About a quarter of the population ages 65 to 69 are taking at least five prescription medications each day to treat chronic health conditions and that increases to nearly half of Americans ages 70 to 79.

While every age group is at risk for being prescribed medications they do not need, the elderly are at particular risk. In addition, they are often prescribed narcotic painkillers, significantly increasing their chance of falling, which could lead to further disability or death.

One group of individuals who are at high risk of receiving prescription medications for diseases or illnesses they do not actually have are nursing home residents who suffer from dementia.

Adverse drug effects occur in at least 15% of seniors, and in nearly half of those cases the problem may have been prevented with greater communication between physicians and pharmacies treating the same patient.

Adding to the problem is the fact that there’s been a major rise in the number of antidepressants being prescribed for older adults over the last two decades, without proof that there is any increase in the number depressed.

Even though the number of depressed older adults living in care homes was unchanged, the use of antidepressants rose from 7.4% to 29.2%! Most of those prescribed antidepressants had not been diagnosed with depression.

Antidepressants are often ineffective for treating depression and pose risks to the elderly, including increasing the risk of falls, osteoporosis and fractures. Those types of injuries are usually treated with pain medication and that may lead to an entirely new problem.

An estimated 202,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 2002 and 2015 and 74% of farmers report being addicted to opioids, or know someone who is. Opioids are commonly prescribed for pain.

The massive increase in opioid sales and subsequent addiction rates came about after a premeditated marketing plan misinformed doctors about the drug’s addictive potential.

The same company that manufactured the addictive pain killers also came up with the medication to treat the addiction, all the while increasing their profits while thousands died. More than 70,200 Americans of all ages died from drug overdoses in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

If you or a loved one are elderly, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about any changes to your lifestyle choices that may reduce your need for medication and improve your health. Reasearch alternative pain treatments that don't require medication and stick to a diet filled with organically grown, nongenetically modified whole foods.