On average, people over the age of 65 take up to 18 medications a year. While medications can be helpful, they can also have negative side effects and dangerous drug interactions. There is also the risk of being overprescribed medications. With the potential risks that exist, it’s very important that you take your parents’ medications seriously.
A helpful tool to refer to is the Beers list. The Beers list was published by Dr. Mark Beers in 1991 when he created a list of medications that were not appropriate for seniors. The Beers list has been updated and reviewed by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) along with a panel of experts in the geriatric care and pharmacotherapy fields.
The list puts medications into the following three categories:
- Medications that can be inappropriate for seniors
- Drugs that can worsen a disease or condition because of its side effects
- Medications that should be used with caution
The Beers list also includes recommendations for each medicine. It’s a great tool to refer to when you want to know how to use a particular medicine, why it may need to be avoided and which conditions it can make worse.
You can download your copy of the Beers list here.
Medications to Avoid
In the meantime, here are 10 medications that should be avoided or used with caution in older adults.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Avoid regular, long-term use.
- Digoxin (Lanoxin): Toxic for people with poor working kidneys.
- Glyburide and chlorpropamide (diabetes drugs): Can dangerously lower blood sugar.
- Muscle relaxants: Can cause grogginess and confusion; increases the risk of falls.
- Benzodiazepines and sleeping medications: Can cause confusion, increase the risk of falls and stay in the system for a long time.
- Some anticholinergic drugs: Can cause confusion, blurry vision and problems urinating.
- Meperidine (Demerol): Increases the risk of seizures and confusion.
- Diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine (antihistamines): Can cause confusion, blurred vision, dry mouth and problems urinating
- Antipsychotics: Can increase the risk of stroke or death in older adults with dementia.
- Estrogen pills and patches: Can increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots and possibly dementia.
This article does not constitute medical advice. All medication use should be in consultation with your physician.