Age Related Changes and Adverse Drug Reactions

Normal aging can alter the way drugs are absorbed, metabolized, distributed and removed from the body. For example, the ratio of lean body mass to body fat tissue changes, and although weight may remain the same, some medications may remain in the system for a longer period of time due to an increase in body fat. A decrease in the percentage of body weight consisting of water also occurs, causing drugs to become more highly concentrated, exaggerating the medicines effect. There is also a decrease in both the action of the gastrointestinal tract, the kidneys and in liver function, which causes food and medicines to slow down in the system, remain in the body for longer periods, and which can cause drugs to collect in the liver resulting in possible toxicity.

These age related changes result in the action of drugs being less predictable than they are in younger or middle-aged persons. Coupled with the lack of drug testing in adults over the age of 75, these changes can cause adverse drug reactions. Therefore, the standard adult dose of a medication (which was likely tested on a healthy 55 year old male weighing 175 pounds) probably should be altered or reduced for our aged population. (Source: Ohio State University)

Inappropriate Prescriptions Abound

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine estimates that errors in prescribing drugs for seniors may occur in as many as 16 million doctor visits. This echoes in strong numbers the results reported during our study for our ElderCare Guide "Tracking Your Medicine: How to Keep It Simple and Safe." Once again, we are reminded how important it is that doctors know all of the medicines we are taking so we can avoid dangerous drug interactions.

Medication Awareness