The NY-T’s reports that the average person in their mid to late 60’s today is taking 15 Rx drugs a year, and that does not count the number of over-the-counter products they may be taking.
That is a lot of medications, especially when you consider that a survey released by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) 4 yrs years ago, in Y 2016, indicated that 75% of the respondents, all over age 50 said they take at least one Rx medication on a regular basis.
In that AARP survey, more than 80% reported taking at least 2, and more than 50% took 4 or more. Compared to a Y 2005 Gallup survey, which showed 52% of all Americans said they were taking at least 1 Rx medication, it’s obvious that seniors are taking more drugs than they did in the past.
Specifically, from Ys 1988 to 2010, adults over 65 anni 2x’d the number of prescriptions they took from 2 to 4. The proportion of adults taking 5 or more 3X’d in that same time frame. Yet, despite the rising number of prescriptions, more drugs do not add up to better health.
According to the researchers, “Contemporary older adults on multiple medications have worse health status compared to those on fewer medications, and appear to be a vulnerable population.” This translates to a negative effect on activities of everyday living as well as increased confusion and memory problems.
The term used to describe a condition in which a person takes multiple medications, drugs, supplements and over-the-counter remedies is polypharmacy.
As evidenced by the research, the clinical relevance and consequences of polypharmacy, of seniors taking fistfuls of medications each day are far-reaching as the aging population across the world continues to grow.
Polypharmacy is common among the elderly, especially for those who reside in nursing homes.
Some end up in a nursing home because of adverse drug reactions, which places financial and emotional burdens on communities and families. They also may result in a significant number of hospitalizations with a high number of complications, increased rates of death and excessive healthcare costs.
What is worse, you may believe the federal government, medical associations or pharmaceutical companies have tested the effects that combinations of drug chemicals would have in your body but this does not happen often.
Researchers report these adverse drug reactions are responsible for up to 12% of all hospital admissions of seniors. Yet, even being in the hospital does not ensure against, or reduce, polypharmacy.
In 1 study, a team in Italy evaluated 1,332 inpatients who were at least 65 anni and who took at least five medications. They found polypharmacy was present in 51.9% of the patients when they arrived at the hospital, and this increased to 67% by the time they left.
One of the hidden dangers of polypharmacy is the chemical interactions that occur in the body when medications are mixed. Another problem is the number of times one drug is prescribed to take care of the side effects of another.
This has become known as a “prescribing cascade.”
The New York Times writes: “One common example is the use of anti-Parkinson therapy for symptoms caused by antipsychotic drugs, with the anti-Parkinson drugs in turn causing new symptoms like a precipitous drop in blood pressure or delirium that result in yet another prescription.”
To that end, drug interactions can cause hospitalizations in and of themselves and sometimes these interactions can even lead to death. The authors of 1 study noted a 50% increase in this problem when seniors are taking 5-9 medications.
Dr. Michael Stern, geriatric emergency medicine specialist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, told a NY-T’s reporter that polypharmacy accounts for more than 25% of all admissions to the hospital and that it would be considered the 5th leading cause of death if it were categorized that way.
In related studies, researchers have found that inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases including heart disease and dementia.
They also have found a link between inflammation and depression. The authors of one literature review included results from 30 randomized control trials with a total of 1,610 participants.
Data analysis showed anti-inflammatory agents could reduce depressive disorder when compared to a placebo.
Results from another large meta-analysis revealed similar findings: Anti-inflammatory medications were helpful for those dealing with depression.
Yet another group of researchers found that those treated with immunotherapy for an inflammatory disorder experienced symptomatic relief of depressive symptoms.
All of this points toward other ways of addressing depression than resorting to an Rx antidepressant.
So, before adding 1 more Rx medication or over-the-counter drug to your daily regimen, consider seeking the help of a natural health physician who can help get to the root of the problem.
Too often Rx medications mask symptoms but do not address the underlying condition. A vicious cycle may begin when the 1st medication triggers a side effect that a 2nd medication will be prescribed to treat.
While a pharmacy computer may flag some drug interactions, the chemical complexity involved when more than 3 Rx drugs are prescribed make it unnecessarily challenging to avoid adverse reactions. The real solution is to take control of one’s health and introduce foundational strategies to improve overall health.
There is no magic pill that will fix symptoms, remove an illness and restore the vigor of youth.
But, there are lifestyle choices 1 can make that will go a long way toward achieving good health goals.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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