Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Too Many Pills for Aging Patients
My 92-year-old aunt was a walking pharmacy, and a month ago it nearly killed her. The episode also cost the American medical system several hundred thousand dollars.
Overmedication of the elderly is an all too common problem, a public health crisis that compromises the well-being of growing numbers of older adults. Many take fistfuls of prescription and over-the-counter medications on a regular basis, risking serious and sometimes fatal side effects and drug interactions.
A series of research-based guidelines, recently updated and published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, calls attention to specific medications most likely to have calamitous effects in the elderly. If adopted by practicing physicians and their patients, the guidelines should help to avert the kind of costly, debilitating disaster that befell my aunt.