Anyone who has taken prescription medicine knows that it typically comes with a comprehensive listing of potential negative effects to watch for. Although prescriptions are, obviously, meant to help us, the problems that can derive from these negative reactions can be more serious than the benefit we obtain.
For the elderly, nearly all of whom take multiple medications, the prospect of experiencing an adverse reaction is enhanced. However, amazingly, over 50% of all seniors in a recent research study encountered negative side effects from a medication without ever reporting them to their physician. Even more startling: when these medication problems were reported, physicians did not always make note of them in the seniors’ medical records.
Older adults offered two reasons for not revealing their medication complications:
- They believed symptoms were simply part of growing older
- They did not want to inconvenience their doctors
In another study, adults age 70 and older were supplied with a list of dozens of symptoms and asked whether or not they had experienced any of them over the last six months, as well as whether or not they thought the symptoms could be associated with 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 because of the symptoms.
An astounding 78% of those who participated in the research revealed symptoms that were clinically determined to be side effects from a prescription drug. And just 39% of those older adults had disclosed their concerns to their doctors, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being included in the seniors’ medical records.
The most predominant adverse reactions were described by older adults taking the following 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.”
Morning Glory Home Care, providers of top-rated elder care in Edwardsville, IL and the surrounding communities, can help as well. Our caregivers provide an observant eye and ear for senior loved ones, to note any problems or concerns and report them immediately so they can be resolved. We also provide medication reminders, to ensure meds are taken precisely when and how prescribed, eliminating missed or doubled doses, which may also cause adverse reactions.