As we age it is common to increase the number of medications we take. Deterioration or new illnesses may require additional prescriptions, and soon seniors start taking a handful of pills in the mornings and evenings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of older adults said they had at least one prescription last month, and over the last decade, the number of people taking drugs in the US rose from 44 to 48 percent. Seventy-six percent of senior citizens said they had taken two or more prescriptions, and 37 percent of the total said they had taken five or more prescriptions.
The medical treatment of mental and physical conditions certainly brings benefits, but it also carries risks as the number of pills increases, especially for people of retirement age.
Reasons to reduce
It is very important to consult your doctor about the different medications you are taking. Here are some reasons why:
Drugs can increase the risk of falling: Getting older can affect your coordination and balance, and conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis can affect your strength which can make you more prone to falling. Some medications you have been prescribed may have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or vertigo which can only make things worse.
Potentially dangerous interactions: Most likely, doctors review the medical records before prescribing a new medicine to ensure that it doesn’t interact negatively with other medications you take. In some cases, one drug may reverse the effect of another, which means that your antihypertensive medication that is supposed to regulate your high blood pressure may not work.
Possibility of overdose: Seniors with memory problems may forget that they have already taken a dose of their prescriptions, which may lead to an accidental overdose. If you live in an assisted living community, employees may try to avoid this kind of situation by providing medication monitoring.
Drugs can cause sleep disturbance: For various reasons, sleep problems usually occur more often in older adults. This may be due to extra pain, but it may also be a side effect caused by your medications.
"Insomnia is more common among seniors, partly because of increased levels of anxiety, partly because of health issues and in some cases because of medication," said Dr. Jack Gardner, a sleep-certified neurologist at the Sleep Center of Baylor Medical Center.
If sleep problems occur, check the labels on your medications to determine any possible side effects.
The good news is that there is a simple solution to the problem of taking too many medications. You can discuss with your doctor about which medicine you must take and medicine you may be able to stop taking in order to avoid any unwanted side effects.
In some cases, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, eating better, and losing weight may get rid of the need for some medications as soon as you notice improvements in conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Additionally, if you are suffering from insomnia, decreasing the amount of tablets you take can result in a more restful sleep, which brings countless benefits to your overall well-being.
Reducing medication can also improve your overall routine. It can be awkward to make sure that you have taken each prescription at the right time, especially when you are on vacation or socializing. Reducing the amount of medication you take can also make you feel less anxious about skipping a dosage.
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