What To Look For and Steps You Should Take
As people age, the likelihood increases they will need multiple medications to treat one or more conditions. In fact, nearly half of all adults 65+ take more than five prescriptions.
Medication overload often happens when patients seek medical care from multiple providers.
These people are at risk for medication interactions and side effects, posing a greater risk of harm than benefit. In addition, natural changes in the body as people age can affect how medications work. This can impact the most effective dose and how medications are metabolized.
Interactions between some drugs can be harmful and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adverse drug reactions result in more than 700,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year. In addition, up to half of patients taking four or more drugs do not take them as prescribed, according to a 2020 analysis in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Many of these adverse drug reactions, however, can be prevented. There are several possible symptoms of medication overload. Some of these include:
- Loss of appetite
Older adults and family members or care partners should learn about the risks of medication overload and request a prescription check-up to talk with their providers.
Steps to Avoiding Medication Overload
The first step to take is to make a complete and accurate list of all medications you or your loved one are taking and keep it with you. This list should include things such as the medication’s name, why you’re taking them, the dosage and how often you’re taking them. In addition, it should include over-the-counter medications, herbal preparations and supplements you take.
Always keep this medication list with you and review it with your health care providers. If you’re seeing more than one provider, share your list with each one, so they know every medication and supplement you take, even if you don’t take them every day.
Your pharmacist also can advise you about potential medication interactions and side effects.
Ask them about how to avoid excess prescriptions and stop unnecessary medications. If it’s not possible to review medications during each visit, schedule at least one annual review with your primary care provider.
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