What Are the Special Considerations for Elderly Patients Taking Medication?
For elderly patients and their families, the process of taking medications can be a challenging one. Age-related changes in metabolism, organ functioning, and drug levels in the bloodstream may require special considerations when it comes to adapting dosing schedules and drug selections. Older adults need to exercise both safety and caution when taking medications, as factors such as age, lifestyle, underlying health conditions, and other medications can all affect outcomes. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the special considerations that should be kept in mind when administering medication to elderly patients.
Fatigue and Frailty
Fatigue, reduced energy levels, and frailty are common issues among elderly patients. These can factor into medication choices and schedules as they might be unable to take a total dose of a medication all at once. They could also be more prone to side effects, so drug doses should be tested and adjusted.
Interactions with Poor Eating Habits
Older adults often have poor diets, which can increase the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies and affect the absorption of some drugs. For example, many drugs require an acidic stomach environment for proper absorption and may not be absorbed in those with pre-existing digestive issues due to their less-acidic stomach environment. Poor nutrition can also reduce the effectiveness of medications.
Many elderly patients take multiple drugs and supplements, which can create a situation known as drug overload. When this occurs, the body is subjected to many different types of drugs, which can lead to an increased risk of adverse drug reaction or drug interactions.
Reduced Kidney and Liver Function
Older patients are likely to experience diminished kidney and liver functioning due to age-related structural and functional changes. This can lead to slower drug metabolism and clearance, resulting in higher drug levels in the bloodstream. Therefore, medications should be chosen and dosed appropriately to avoid toxicity.
Final Thoughts: Special Considerations when Taking Medication for Elderly Patients
Taking medications for elderly patients is a delicate process that should include special considerations such as fatigue and frailty, poor eating habits, drug overload, and reduced kidney and liver function. Caregivers should follow a doctor’s advice closely, watch out for any drug interactions, and keep nutrition in mind.