With a growing number of cases of overmedicated elderly in nursing homes, it is important that you keep alert. Making sure you know of the potential side effects of any treatment that your loved one has been prescribed is crucial. Several studies show that many elderly patients end up suffering due to medication-related problems.
Here, we are going to list some common ways that medication can affect the health and well being of aging patients in nursing homes. By educating yourself, you enable your loved ones the best chance at avoiding them.
Balance and thinking problems
Lots of the medication given to elderly patients can affect their balance or thoughts. Drugs that are used to treat things like overactive bladders, nerve pain, and nausea, contain chemicals that are used in sleep-aids. These drugs can seriously increase the risk of falls due to their sedating effects. Common signs include drowsiness and confusion, as well as memory loss.
Symptoms of illness that persist despite treatment
Another common medication issue is when doctors prescribe a drug to treat certain symptoms. After taking these drugs, doctors can often forget to arrange to follow up appointments. Due to this, sometimes symptoms can persist, highlighting health issues that have not already been diagnosed. Patients often attribute these symptoms to their original diagnoses, unaware that they are caused by another underlying issue.
If your loved one is complaining about symptoms that were meant to be cured by a drug, it is important to speak to their doctor – demand that they take more tests. Often in busy nursing homes, you will have to be quite assertive to get this.
Drug Combination Effects
Certain drugs produce specific side effects only when paired with another drug. This is common with treatments and medication like blood thinners. Blood thinners, when administered alongside antibiotics, can lead to increased risks.
You should pay extra attention if your loved one has been prescribed Warfarin. Warfarin is perhaps the leading cause of elder medication-related hospitalization. The risks can be reduced by increased monitoring of the effects; Ptothrombin blood tests should be given regularly throughout the entire dosing period.
Strong effect side effects
Certain drugs have naturally strong effects on elderly patients. Blood pressure medication is one, in particular, that should be monitored. The normal dosage for blood pressure drugs can cause light-headedness and falls when an elderly person stands up.
Another one is blood sugar medication. If your loved one has diabetes, extra monitoring should be implemented as low blood sugar can lead to falls and faster cognitive decline.
Any medication given to an at-risk elderly patient in a nursing home should come with increased monitoring. Elderly people are at a much higher risk of slipping under the radar, as many side effects that raise alarm bells in younger people can go undetected.
Unfortunately, our healthcare system is not perfect, and this is especially true when it comes to aging adults. This means that you need to do everything in your power to ensure that they receive the care they deserve.