Aging Well: Medications Blurring the Line Between Helpful, Harmful

September 28, 2009
Tamera Manzanares

Chronic pain, anxiety and depression are just a few problems that can send a person to their doctor’s office for relief. Chances are, they will leave with one or more prescriptions for medications.

Although prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can greatly improve a person’s quality of life, misuse can quickly blur the line between feeling better and feeling worse.

Older adults consume the most prescription and over-the-counter drugs of any age group. This, in addition to other age-related changes, make older adults particularly vulnerable to substance abuse problems, according to “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Among Older Americans,” a 2005 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Despite this, a growing body of research suggests misuse and other medication-related problems in older adults can be avoided.

Focusing more research and screening on potential effects of certain drugs on older individuals and spreading awareness of these issues among the medical community, patients and caregivers are among recommendations from an expert panel assembled by the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research. More…