What You Should Know about Medication for the Elderly

As we age, the need for medication generally increases, in order to treat illnesses that come along due to the aging process. If you are a caretaker (or you are taking care of yourself), it would behoove you to read on, because this article will lay out everything you need to know about medication for the elderly.

Medication Use
Statistics show that the majority of the elderly over the age of 75 are taking at least one medication. Of that group polled, almost 40% of them take four or more medications. The elderly are much more at risk for experiencing side effects of medications. The elderly who have several illnesses or diseases and have to take lots of medications at the same time can be at a higher risk of side effects as well as drug interactions. The effects of aging in the elderly causes decreased eyesight and memory, which may cause them to have problems taking medications the way they are prescribed.


Always talk to your doctor about the medications they have prescribed, what they are for, how to take them and the time period they expect you to stay on them. The elderly should write all this information down or have the nurse do it for you. If you pick up your medications and they appear to be different than what your doctor told you, be sure to ask the pharmacist why, before you go.

Liver and Kidney

As we get older, it becomes harder for our liver to break down medications and harder for the kidneys to excrete them. This can lead to medications causing us more side effects as we age. The doctor may have to prescribe a smaller dose of medication if you see this happening, or perhaps another medication to counter-act these effects.


As we age, eyesight is one of the first things to cause problems. For instance, it can be hard to read the small printed labels with instructions. Always have the pharmacy print out a leaflet describing the medication and how often to take it, to make it easier to read.

Joints and Bones

Arthritis affects many elderly people, and it can be tough for the elderly to open childproof containers of medications. It can also be enough to use inhalers and eye medication drops, because of arthritis. For the elderly, there are non-lock containers you can get at the pharmacy, so you don’t have this problem. Make sure to request that with your medications. There are also some optional items they can provide to make inhalers and eye drops easier to dispense.

Nervous System

Ironically, as we age, the nervous system and brain have a tough time with medications and we find ourselves more sensitive to them. Often times, lower doses of painkillers and sleeping medications must be prescribed, due to the level of sensitivity we experience. The mind also forgets more, so we have to plan on using calendars for reminders of when to take medications or pill boxes, which allow us to sort out the days of the week to take medications.

As we age, these are all things we must keep in mind. The elderly will experience many aging changes and part of these will include the mediations we take.

Zooey Gilmore writes about health, caretaking & finding the best health insurance quote.

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