No doubt, modern medications have improved the lives of many senior citizens, yet others are plagued by problems in dosages and improper mixing of medicines.
The right combination of the wrong drugs can mean serious side effects for seniors. Sometimes, even the right drug in the wrong patient can be a problem.
Patients and their families need to go beyond the doctor’s office to find out the proper doses and combinations to keep health issues at bay.
“In hospitals, there’s a tendency to overmedicate the elderly,” says Dr. Patricia Harris, director of geriatric education with the Washington Hospital Center in Northwest. “Some [patients] overmedicate themselves with over-the-counter medicine.”
Geriatric experts agree the problem is significant and overwhelming in its complexities.
Dr. Harris says the average person is not well-versed on the aging process, and doctors must deal with an avalanche of material when treating older patients.
Take the recent arrival of the insomnia drug Ambien into the marketplace.
“It was marketed as the perfect medication for older people,” Dr. Harris says. “It wasn’t until it got into the population as a whole that the problems crept up.”