Aging Increases Risk for Medication Problems

As people age, the body begins to function slower.  Cells are not being produced as much or as fast as it used to in order for rebuilding tissues and muscles. This brings about a relative slow down to general function of the body. Along the way, the body’s ability to resist diseases may also be affected.

Certain activities may not be as easy to do as before. Old age may also bring most people to a greater dependence to medication for treating a variety of ailments. And at times, these drugs may also exact a heavy toll on the body.

It is no question that old people have the need for more medication than any other sector of the population. But the senior population should also be aware that there are certain medications that may lead to some serious consequences when used especially by older patients.

There are prescription medications that may be effective in treating certain ailments but may pose as probable risks for older people. Here are some examples of risky medication that the older population as well as their doctors should know about.

Diazepam

This sedative, more commonly known for its marketed name Valium, is used to treat insomnia as well as anxiety problems. Although it has proven to be effective in treating such ailments, it may not be advisable for use in older patients.

The reason for this is because diazepam is known as a drug with a long half-life. It has a fat soluble ingredient that, when absorbed in body fat, can be released slowly into the bloodstream.

This action prolongs its effect which may be ok for younger adults. But for older patients, it may increase the risk of falls, fractures as well as confusion due to its longer than usual effect on older people. This drug can also be addictive and may cause withdrawal symptoms which might be an added problem for senior patients.

Propoxyphene

This is an analgesic that is also being prescribed by doctors in older patients as painkillers. This drug may not be as effective in easing the pain but may carry with it the additional risk of damage on the heart or the central nervous system.

Other common over the counter drugs such as Ibuprofen may provide better pain relief and may cause fewer and less risky side effects.

Dipyridamole

This drug is prescribed as a blood thinner in order to prevent blood clots. But studies have shown that this drug may not be as effective in older patients.

It is seen to benefit only patients with artificial heart valves also taking the drug warfarin as a blood thinning agent. Low-dose aspirin therapy may be a more reliable alternative to prevent blood clots in a majority of older patients.

Amytriptyline

This drug is an antidepressant which can dangerously cause a drop in blood pressure in older patients. 

The use of this drug can be safely replaced by the use of nortriptyline or SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) drugs such as Fluoxetine, more commonly known for the brand name Prozac.