People over 65 use more prescription medications than any other age group. So it’s not surprising that they are at the highest risk for medicine-related complications.
A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that 81% of people aged 57 through 85 take at least one prescription medication regularly. Nearly one-third regularly use at least five prescription medications. And that doesn’t include the over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements. Those are used regularly by nearly 50% of the study’s participants.
It’s good that there are medicines to control chronic illness, but as the number of medications person takes goes up, the possible interactions between those medications goes up as well. And medication interactions cause nearly three-quarters of all “adverse events” that follow hospitalizations.
While pharmacy software monitors adverse interactions between prescription medications, the study found that half of all major drug interactions involved prescription medications being combined with over-the-counter drugs or nutritional supplements, something not analyzed by these programs.
The medications most commonly associated with a drug interaction that results in a hospital admission are:
- low-dose aspirin
- warfarin (Coumadin)
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.
Note that only half of these are prescription medications.
The other major cause of adverse drug reactions is improper dosing for the patient’s age, weight, and medical condition. Kidney function, in particular, is important to assess when dosing medication properly.
What can you do to prevent drug interactions? Here are 6 tips:
- Show and Tell. When asked at a medical visit what medications you take, be sure to mention everything, even mineral and vitamin supplements. Even better, bring along the bottles of everything you take, including supplements and over-the-counter medications. Make sure your doctor stays up-to-date on every change.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. If you are being prescribed anything new — whether it’s prescription or over-the-counter — ask about possible side effects and drug interactions.
- Trust, but verify. After your healthcare provider has answered all your questions, ask your pharmacist the same questions. Pharmacists are trained to understand the mechanisms and interactions of medications. And while you’re giving your doctor a list of every pill you take, be sure to give one to your pharmacist as well.
- Write it down. Whenever you’re warned about possible interactions or side effects, write them down. It is important to remember everything about the medications you’re taking. And while it’s hard to remember all the warnings for any single medication; it’s virtually impossible to remember everything if you take several medications.
- Stick to the same pharmacy. If you use different pharmacies, it becomes more likely that one of the pharmacies will not have a complete list of everything you take, making a drug interaction more likely.
- Read the package insert. The package insert will warn of possible side effects and known interactions. If you don’t know what a term means, be sure to ask.
As the number of medications you take go up, the possible drug complications go up, too. But you have the power to keep yourself safe.
At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Keansburg, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients — and that includes keeping close track of the medications.
Our residents receive the highest quality rehabilitative and skilled nursing care in a homelike and compassionate environment conducive to healing.
Our family-owned and -operated 123-bed facility, is tucked away in the quiet beach town of Keansburg, NJ at the Jersey Shore, within sight of Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline.
Our services include short-term rehab, long-term care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice care, and respite care for those times when the caretaker needs to be taken care of.
We proudly provide the following specialty healthcare services: complex medical care management, intravenous (IV) therapy, wound care, enteral feeding, pain management, oxygen therapy, tracheostomy care, a dedicated pulmonary program, hospice care with private suites, a stroke rehab program, respiratory support, eye care, dental care, podiatry care, and psychological consults and counseling.
We pride ourselves on healing the entire patient through a holistic and individualized approach.
Our meticulous care planning helps us ensure that each and every resident receives the best in clinical care, support and unconditional love.
For over 25 years, we have been a staple of health and wellness, serving the members of our community and partnering with our local hospitals like Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, NJ and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, NJ.
We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.
Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.