Health Issues in Older Adults

Anyone who has taken prescription medications is aware that they usually come with an extensive listing of potential negative effects to watch for. Even though prescriptions are, of course, intended to help us, the danger that can result from these adverse drug reactions can sometimes be worse than the benefits we experience.

Multiple health issues in older adults often mean that a number of medications are being taken, thereby increasing the likelihood of experiencing an adverse reaction. Yet interestingly, according to a newly released study, more than 50% of all seniors encountered negative side effects from a medication without ever revealing these details to their doctors. Even more astonishing: when these problems were reported, doctors did not always make note of them in the seniors’ medical records.

Seniors cited two main reasons for not discussing their medication complications:

  • They concluded the symptoms were merely part of growing older
  • They did not want to bother their doctors

In a similar study, adults age 70 and older were furnished with a list of dozens of symptoms and asked whether or not they had experienced any of them during the last 6 months, as well as whether they believed the symptoms could possibly be linked to their medication, if the symptoms had affected them, if they had mentioned the symptoms to their doctors, and if they had needed to be hospitalized due to the symptoms.

A staggering 78% of individuals who participated in the research revealed symptoms that were medically determined to be adverse reactions to a prescription drug. And only 39% of those seniors had reported their concerns to their physicians, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being contained in the seniors’ medical records.

The most prevalent adverse reactions were reported by older adults taking these particular medications:

  • Antithrombotic agents
  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blocking agents
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Serum lipid-reducing agents

Side effects included bruising, bleeding, indigestion, muscle pain and weakness, dizziness/lightheadedness, coughing, and unsteadiness when standing.

Caitriona Cahir, PhD and a research fellow in the population health sciences division of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin, suggests that seniors, “be provided with concise information resources that describe the purpose of their medication and help them anticipate and recognize adverse drug events and seek appropriate treatment. Adverse drug event interviews with a nurse or pharmacist could be incorporated into patient medication reviews as part of a patient’s ongoing pharmacologic care.”

Anthem Home Care, providers of in home senior care in Portland and the surrounding areas, can help. Our caregivers provide a watchful eye and ear to observe any health issues in older adults and report them immediately so that they can be addressed. We also provide medication reminders, to ensure meds are taken precisely when and how prescribed, preventing missed or doubled doses, that could also cause negative reactions.

Reach out to us today at 361-643-2323 to schedule a free in-home assessment, and to find out more about our in home senior care in Portland and the surrounding communities.