Anyone who’s taken prescription medicine is aware that it usually includes a thorough list of possible adverse reactions to watch for. While prescriptions are, naturally, meant to help us, the danger that may result from these negative reactions can often be worse than the benefit we experience.
For the elderly, the majority of whom take multiple medications, the possibilities of experiencing an adverse reaction are enhanced. Yet surprisingly, over fifty percent of all seniors in a recent research study experienced adverse side effects from a medication without ever revealing them to their physicians. Even more startling: when these problems were disclosed, doctors did not always make note of them in the older adults’ medical records.
Older adults provided two primary reasons for not sharing their medication issues:
- They concluded symptoms were simply a part of aging
- They did not want to inconvenience their doctors
In another study, adults age 70 and older were given a list of dozens of symptoms and asked if they had experienced any of them within the last six months, along with whether or not they believed symptoms could possibly be connected to their medication, if the symptoms had bothered them, whether they had reported the symptoms to their doctors, and if they had needed to be hospitalized due to the symptoms.
An astounding 78% of individuals who took part in the research revealed symptoms that were clinically determined to be side effects of a prescription drug. And only 39% of those seniors had mentioned their concerns to their physicians, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being documented in the seniors’ medical records.
These common prescription drugs for the elderly, in particular, were reported to have widespread adverse reactions:
- 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 a and 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.”
As one of the best St. Louis home care agencies, Compassionate Nursing Services can assist as well. Our caregivers provide a watchful eye and ear for older adults, to observe any 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 precisely when and how prescribed, preventing missed or doubled doses which may also cause negative reactions.