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Common Medication Problems in Aging

14 February, 2019

, Old Age

Most of the silver population in India will be on some form of medication or the other;, nowadays even people over 40, fall under this category of regular medicine intake. However, the senior citizens are more at risk of issues arising from medication than their younger counterparts. Often, when they find themselves sick and have to take some extra medicines to counter that, they have to bear side-effects and contradictions between medications.

This is more common if one tends to resort to self-medication. It is important to have an idea about the common medication problems that are found in the waning years, just so, you can keep an eye and reach out for help if required.

Side Effects

One of the most commonly seen problems in seniors is the side effects of the medication that they are prescribed. The doctors are usually careful about understanding a patient’s history fully before prescribing medicines. However, it is possible that as a first-time prescription, some drug may cause issues. Sometimes, what happens is that we do experience the side effects, but ignore these as a burden of old age. Sometimes, even the family members may dismiss it and not pay much attention.

Hence, it is essential to know that most medicines do have some form of side effects and it is important to know and understand these from your doctor. Also, the side effects are usually, more pronounced in old age and may not affect a younger body as much. If you know what side effects can occur while starting a new medicine, it can help keep a watch and seek help if required. Especially, if you find that your appetite, balance, sleep, mental sharpness, bowel movements, body weight, etc. is getting affected, it is better to get back to the doctor who prescribed those medicines, to verify if it is the medicines causing the issue.

Drug Reactions or Allergies

At times, it is possible that some drugs, when administered for the first time, cause some allergic reactions. It is also possible that if you are already on some regular medications for some other medical conditions, the drug has had some reactions to those as well. Hence, especially when starting news drugs for any in-between kind of illness, it is always better to check with your doctor about all other regular medicines that you are taking, just to be on the safe side.

By chance, if you find that something uncommon is happening in the body, after taking a particular medicine, it is better to seek immediate medical attention. This could be itching, vomiting, giddiness, some swelling in certain parts of the body, etc. Also, if you notice any allergies for any drug, make a note and ensure that you do not get prescribed the same components again; sometimes the brand may be different, but the composition may be identical.

Dosage Adjustment

Another commonly seen problem in the senior citizens has been the continuation of prescribed medicine for years together, without regular checkups in between. Most diabetes, blood pressure, heart-related, and thyroid medicines, etc. that are continuous in nature may need adjustments in dosages, once in a while. Hence, it is important to visit your doctor, at least once in 6 months, or as requested by the doctor and not push or miss those regular checkups. Continuing to take the same dosage can also adversely affect your body, as it’s possible that you may actually be requiring a lower or higher dosage, based on changes happening in the body.

This is also true about your vision, wherein you need to get your eyes tested every once in six months, or as prescribed by the doctor. Eyesight keeps changing and hence the spectacles, if used, should also be changed as per that. Else, it can cause you more harm.

Missed or Higher doses

Sometimes, the older people or their caretakers may miss out on a dose, or it is possible that on their own, they took the medicines more frequently, or in a higher quantity than required. Sometimes, just because you find that the symptoms are not receding as expected, you may consciously decide to take an overdose or increase the frequency. This can be very dangerous and should be avoided. At times, if you are taking any medicines, one may get confused with the other, and you may end up taking the wrong medicine.

 An excellent way to avoid this is to create a chart and put a tick to ensure that the right dose is taken at the right time. If there are no caretakers around, one may also use some apps for medicine reminders. Drug overuse can also create issues like sedation, sleepiness, loss of coherence, etc. Also, to ensure that a wrong medicine is not taken, the medication can be neatly labeled in containers with morning, noon, evening, night, etc. to ensure that only the right one is taken.

Administration issues

One other issue of taking medicines could be that people do not follow the instructions properly about how they should be administered. For example, what should be taken before food, after food, with water, with milk, etc. should be strictly followed as per the instructions. Some may just be chewable tablets, while some may require to be taken along with liquid and so on. Understand how medicine should be taken and make sure that it is followed to the T, to the extent possible, to avoid unwanted issues.

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