An estimated 100,000 older Americans are hospitalized for adverse drug reactions yearly, and most of those emergencies stem from four common medications, a new study finds.
Seniors are increasingly reliant upon their medications. It’s a fact of life. Literally.
However, with so many different kinds of medications to do so many different things, sometimes the medications themselves can cause more harm than good. Nonetheless, according to a recent study from the Center for Disease Control, as reported here, two-thirds of drug-related emergency hospitalizations result from just four types of medications.
The four types of medicine are also very common. Listed below in order, from the greatest to the least percentage of adverse instances per drug, whether taken together or separately:
- A blood-thinning medication called warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- Antiplatelet drugs used to prevent blood clots such as aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Oral hypoglycemic agents – a diabetes medicine
The most important fact, however, is that nearly two-thirds of all such cases were not just the drugs themselves; they were the result of unintentional overdoses.
It’s scary to see such common medicines listed, and if you or loved ones use them there is cause to take notice, but the real lesson is awareness and care. There are real consequences when care is not received properly or when an elderly person is not able to accurately gauge their medications.
Additionally, it is also very concerning when an elderly person has lost their ability to manage their medications and make their own health care decisions. When this situation arises, please contact an elder law attorney to determine whether it is time to take over and start making those decisions for your loved one, either through the implementation of the older person's advanced health care directive or through a court supervised conservatorship.
Reference: USA Today (November 25, 2011) “Four Common Meds Send Thousands of Seniors to Hospital”