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The Art of Aging

 

Senior-friendly care & wellness advice

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Am I taking too many

MEDICATIONS?

Medicine is important for treating disease and chronic health conditions, but how many do we really need?

A recent Canadian study found that almost half of seniors taking five or more medications had a side effect serious enough to require medical attention. Sometimes, the medicines can have side effects that are worse than the disease we are trying to treat.

It is important to understand that most of the studies that look at medications for health conditions do not include people over the age of 65 and most guidelines for treating diseases are designed for younger adults. For example, we have learned in the past several years that older people with diabetes do better with a sugar that’s a little bit higher than what is recommended for younger people. This means if we try to lower an older adult’s sugar to that of a younger person it may be too low and could cause dizziness which can lead to falls and hip fractures.

Finally, the more medicines we take the greater the risk of them interacting with one another to cause unpleasant symptoms. Sometimes we don’t even know what effects can happen when multiple medications are used together. Also, as we age, doses of medicine often need to be lowered to reduce the risk of side effects.

If you take more than five medications, you should talk to your doctor or health care provider about whether you can get rid of some of them. Teamwork with your healthcare provider is important for your health.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Should I be taking

ANTIBIOTICS?

Antibiotics are one of the greatest medical discoveries of the 20th century.

They can save lives and treat symptoms of serious bacterial infections. But, they are not for all infections and when they are not used properly they can cause more serious problems.

Antibiotics come with risks. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They can cause allergic reactions and can cause harm to your kidneys. Also, when they are misused they can cause bacteria to become stronger and smarter. This is called “antibiotic resistance” and it means that the antibiotics can no longer kill the bacteria. This is a very serious problem as these antibiotics won’t work when we really need them to.

It is important to know when antibiotics are needed and when they are not.

  • Antibiotics will not help if you have an infection caused by a virus (like a cold or the flu)
  • Antibiotics will not help if you do not have an infection
  • Antibiotics are often not needed if you have bacteria in your urine (unless you have symptoms like fever, discomfort when urinating, feeling the need to use the bathroom frequently)

If you have symptoms of an infection, it is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider to decide if antibiotics are best. Not taking antibiotics when you don’t have an infection is just as important for your health as taking them if you do.