Chronic Illnesses, Aging Adults and Prescription Drugs

Age, chronic conditions and multiple medications go hand-in-hand. But the goal of any caregiver should be getting their loved one on the right medications, not the most medications. Any organization that helps you care for an aging adult should have a medication review high on their to-do list. Too many medicines, interacting with one another, can have a devastating impact.

Across the board, the average number of retail prescriptions per person increased to 12.6 in 2009 from 10.1 in 1999, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation report. For those 65 years old and older, 90% have an expense related to prescription medications, the report states.

Older adults (65-79 years old), have an average of 20 unique prescriptions filled each year, according to the Center on an Aging Society. Those 80 years old and older have an average of 22 prescriptions filled each year.

Work with your primary care physician to review each medication. The first step is to make sure your physician has a complete list of your medications, including  over-the counter medications and supplements. A good tip is to bring all of your medication with you to your doctor’s visit. In addition, it’s important to tell your doctor if you are taking the prescription as it was prescribed. Sometimes people don’t take their pills at all or alter the dose on their own.

Find out if the medications work together or if they cause side effects. After a medication review, you may be able to reduce the number of medications your loved one takes and improve their condition.

Mary Tuuk_2014_SmMary Tuuk, MD, an expert in the care and treatment of aging adults, is chief medical officer at InnovAge



This InnovAge blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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