RX Side Effects

Anyone who’s taken prescription drugs understands that they normally come with a thorough list of possible side effects to watch for. While prescriptions are, obviously, designed to help us, the problems which may be a consequence of these negative reactions can be more severe than the benefits we obtain.

For senior loved ones, almost all of whom take numerous medications, the chances of experiencing an adverse RX side effect is increased. However, interestingly, over 50% of all older adults in a recent study experienced negative side effects from a medication without ever revealing them to their health practitioners. Even more astonishing: when these problems were disclosed, doctors failed to always make note of them in the older adults’ medical records.

Seniors specified two primary reasons for not discussing their medication complications:

  • They believed symptoms were just a part of aging
  • They didn’t want to bother their physicians

In a similar research study, seniors age 70 and older were provided with a list of dozens of symptoms and asked whether or not they had experienced any of them in the past six months, as well as whether they thought the symptoms could be associated with their medication, if the symptoms had affected them, whether they had reported the symptoms to their doctors, and if they had needed to be hospitalized as a consequence of the symptoms.

A full 78% of people who participated in the research revealed symptoms that were clinically identified to be adverse reactions to a prescription drug. And only 39% of those seniors had disclosed their concerns to their physicians, with as few as 10% of the reported symptoms being contained in the seniors’ medical records.

The most prevalent adverse reactions were described by older adults taking the following medications:

  • Antithrombotic agents
  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blocking agents
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Serum lipid-reducing agents

Side effects included bruising, bleeding, indigestion, muscle pain and weakness, dizziness/lightheadedness, coughing, and unsteadiness when standing.

Caitriona Cahir, PhD and research fellow in the population health sciences division of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin, recommends that seniors, “be provided with concise information resources that describe the purpose of their medication and help them anticipate and recognize adverse drug events and seek appropriate treatment. Adverse drug event interviews with a nurse or pharmacist could be incorporated into patient medication reviews as part of a patient’s ongoing pharmacologic care.”

Absolute Companion Care, providers of trusted senior home care services in Towson and the surrounding areas, can help as well. Our caregivers provide a watchful eye and ear for senior loved ones, to pick up on any problems or concerns and document them immediately so that they can be resolved. We also provide medication reminders, to make sure meds are taken precisely when and how prescribed, preventing missed or doubled doses that could also cause adverse reactions.

Email or call us at 410-357-9640 for a complimentary in-home assessment for more information.