Medication Safety & Aging Bodies

Senior citizens are the fastest growing segment of the population and medications play an increasing role in healthcare while aging. Seniors are living longer and because of that they may be likely to develop one or several chronic illnesses and appropriate medication can help them to live healthier, more productive and active lives. Along with the benefit of living longer come some challenges.

Consider the following factors:

 Aging bodies become more sensitive to medications as the liver and kidneys become less efficient metabolizing and excreting them. Normal adult doses may cause increased side effects.

 Poor eyesight makes reading print on prescription bottles and inserts more difficult, causing possible over/under-dosing.

 Difficulty remembering when medications were taken, or what medicine is for which ailment, presents challenges with administration safety.

 Medications come in different colors, shapes and sizes depending on the manufacturer, further adding confusion, especially when taking three or more medications. They have several different names for one given medication, as they are available in trade and generic choices.

Ask yourself the following questions:

 Do you have trouble reading small print on medication bottles and inserts?

 Do you have difficulty identifying your medicines and knowing what pill is for which ailment?

 Do you take three or more medications including over-the-counter supplements/medicines?

 Do you have difficulty remembering dates, events or when you took your medication last?

 Do you get prescriptions from more than one doctor?

 Do you suffer from loss of dexterity/arthritis, making opening medication bottles, using inhalers and eye drops challenging?

If you answered yes to at least two of the questions, you may consider asking for support from family, caregivers and healthcare providers. Do not lose heart; with proper support, you will be able to continue living a full and independent life well into your golden years. Remember, “Continuity of Care” between you, family and healthcare providers is vital to your safety and quality of life.