Anyone who has taken a prescription medication knows that it normally includes a comprehensive list of possible adverse side effects to watch for. Even though prescriptions are, of course, intended to help us, the harm that could result from these negative reactions can often outweigh the benefit.
For older adults, nearly all of whom take numerous medications, the likelihood of going through a bad reaction is increased. Nevertheless, amazingly, over fifty percent of all seniors in a recently available research study experienced adverse side effects from a medication without ever revealing them to their physicians. Even more startling: when these problems were reported, physicians failed to always make note of them in the seniors’ medical records.
Older adults offered two reasons for not revealing their medication issues:
- They assumed symptoms were simply a natural part of increasing age
- They didn’t want to inconvenience their doctors
In another research study, seniors age 70 and older were furnished with a list of dozens of symptoms and asked whether they had experienced any of them during the last 6 months, along with whether or not they believed symptoms could possibly be related to their medication, if the symptoms had bothered them, whether they had mentioned the symptoms to their physicians, and if they had needed to be hospitalized as a consequence of the symptoms.
A full 78% of people who took part in the study revealed symptoms that were medically determined to be adverse reactions to a prescription drug. And just 39% of those seniors had mentioned their concerns to their doctors, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being included in the seniors’ medical records.
The most widespread adverse reactions were reported by seniors taking the following medications:
- Antithrombotic agents
- Cardiovascular drugs
- 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.”
Home With You Senior Care, the top providers of elder care in Columbia, MD and the surrounding area, can help as well. Our caregivers provide a watchful eye and ear for seniors, to pick up on any elderly health issues and report them right away so they can be immediately addressed. We also provide medication reminders, to make certain meds are taken exactly when and how prescribed, eliminating missed or doubled doses that could also cause adverse reactions.