Medication management- another problem of aging

Problems related to adverse medication reactions among the elderly have continued to escalate over the last 20 years, an informal review of available literature indicates.

A report in 1987 said an estimated 200,000 older Americans were hospitalized due to adverse drug reactions or experienced such reactions while hospitalized.

A 1990 report by the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Human Services, indicated that 55 percent of the elderly were non-compliant with their prescription medication orders.

In 2001, Drugs and the Elderly reported that 15 percent of hospitalizations among the elderly were due to adverse drug reactions.

In 2009, a recent British study published in the Oxford Journal states, “the average rate of Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) related hospital admissions is 16.6 percent in the elderly compared to 4.1 percent in younger patients, with 88 percent being preventable.'”

And finally, this: “…Between 1983 and 1993 the number of medication-error related deaths more than doubled. Based on Food and Drug Administration data, medication related death, disabilities, and serious injuries almost tripled between 1998 and 2005. The majority of these medication errors affected the elderly population-those over 65.”

While the term “adverse medication reaction” can refer to an individual reaction to a particular prescription medication, it can also be caused by a “medication error” or “non-compliance with medication orders.” From loss of dexterity to cognitive impairment, the elderly are more prone to the effects of mismanagement of medication. And the situation isn’t getting any better.

Here’s one way to help senior citizens, and everyone, keep medications in order.

Todd County Citizens Against Drugs is sponsoring a Medicine Cabinet Clean-out Day as a method of helping folks dispose of expired or unwanted medications. It’s one day only: Thursday, Oct. 14, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the CentraCare Health System clinic parking lot in Long Prairie. Bring medications in their original bottles for safe, proper disposal. Pouring them down the drain contaminates the water supply so here’s a chance to take care of them properly.

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