Anyone who’s taken prescription medicine is aware that it usually includes an extensive listing of potential negative effects to watch for. Although prescriptions are, obviously, designed to help us, the harm which can be a consequence of these adverse reactions can be worse than the benefit we receive.
For the elderly, almost all of whom take a number of medications, the possibilities of experiencing a negative reaction is increased. Yet interestingly, more than 50% of all seniors in a recently available study encountered adverse side effects from a medication without ever revealing them to their health practitioners. Even more surprising: when these issues were disclosed, physicians did not always make note of them in the older adults’ medical records.
Older adults offered two reasons for not sharing their medication issues:
- They assumed symptoms were simply a part of growing older
- They did not want to inconvenience their physicians
In another study, seniors age 70 and older were supplied with a list of dozens of signs and symptoms and asked if they had experienced any of them over the last six months, in addition to whether or not they thought signs and symptoms could be related to their medication, if the symptoms had bothered them, whether they had mentioned the signs or symptoms to their physicians, and if they had needed to be hospitalized due to the symptoms.
A full 78% of individuals who took part in the study revealed symptoms that were medically identified to be adverse reactions to a prescription drug. And just 39% of those seniors had disclosed their concerns to their physicians, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being contained in the seniors’ medical records.
The most predominant adverse reactions were described by seniors taking these particular medications:
- Antithrombotic agents
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Beta-blocking agents
- Calcium channel blockers
- Serum lipid-reducing agents
Side effects consisted of 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.”
Inspired Home Care, the top-rated in home care in Algonquin and the surrounding areas, can help as well. Our caregivers provide an observant eye and ear for seniors, to spot any older adult health issues or concerns and report them right away so they can be addressed. We also provide medication reminders, to make certain meds are taken exactly when and how prescribed, eliminating missed or doubled doses, which can also cause adverse reactions.