As your loved one gets older, their health can begin to deteriorate. Due to this process, doctors may opt to utilize specific medications in an effort to control problems that arise. In fact, recent studies show that up to 40% of people age 65 and older are prescribed five to nine separate medications on a daily basis. While the medications do a good job controlling disease, they also create an opportunity for accidents to occur.
Meds for Concern
There are four main groups of medication that can pose a danger to seniors. These groups are:
- Warfarin: This medication is responsible for causing the most visits to the emergency room, or around 33% of all ER visits by seniors. Warfarin is an anticoagulant, commonly referred to as blood thinner. Due to this action, excess bleeding is a serious side effect for seniors.
- Insulin: Insulin injections are a daily necessity for type I diabetic seniors. It is responsible for 14% of all ER visits. When seniors accidentally take too much insulin, it can cause extremely low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. When someone experiences hypoglycemia, it can cause unconsciousness or seizures due to the low blood glucose level.
- Oral Diabetes Medications: Oral diabetes medications are behind approximately 11% of ER visits. These medications work by lowering the amount of glucose in the body. Type II diabetes is usually managed by taking these oral medications.
Why Are These Medications So Dangerous to Seniors?
There are many different reasons seniors face problems when administering their medications at home. It is vital for family members to be aware of the medication administration schedule for seniors and provide some supervision over the process to ensure safety. Some of the most common reasons seniors face medication dangers are:
- With side effects having more profound effects to seniors, it takes only a small amount of error in medication administration to create a hazardous dose for many elderly people.
- Many of the tools required for insulin administration are difficult for seniors to use. For example, insulin is given by using a very small syringe labeled with units of measurement on the syringe. For many older adults, it is almost impossible to correctly see the number of units being given.
- Diabetes is a disease that requires blood testing in order to discover how much glucose is in the body. Many seniors have great difficulty testing their blood glucose levels using a glucometer. Seniors may experience problems such as a lack of blood from the test site, or an inability to keep a steady hand when attempting to test.
- Drug interactions also pose a problem for many seniors. For example, warfarin can have an influence on many different medications.