Did you know that 70% of Americans take at least one prescribed medicine and around 50% of them take two medicines based on research from the Mayo Clinic? By looking at these statistics in conjunction with others, there is no doubt that overmedication is a huge problem in America and throughout the world. The reality is that it is much more lucrative for big drug companies to treat illnesses rather than cure them. In fact, the prescription pill industry splits a whopping $85 billion dollars among the top 11 pharmaceutical companies.The elder population along with children, are the two groups that are overmedicated most often. Seniors frequently take several medicines due to various illnesses and medical conditions. In fact, statistics say that one out of every three Americans over 65 take five or more prescriptions and the average 75 year old takes more than ten medicines. The most frequently prescribed pills in the world are opioid painkillers, anti-depressants, and antibiotics. The bad news is that this problem will not stop unless a patient or her family takes control of their medical treatment; so be proactive if you believe your elder parent is overmedicated.
Here are 6 possible warning signs that you or your elder parent is overmedicated:
Fatigue: Are you frequently tired and have low energy even when you have hardly done anything at all? Do you find that you are out of breath at the drop of a hat?
Recurring falls, injuries, or accidents: Are you falling more often than before and/or are you becoming more accident- prone?
Unexplained weight loss or gain: Are you suddenly gaining or losing weight and have no idea why?
Lack of personal hygiene: Do you suddenly have no interest in taking a bath or shower, wearing deodorant, brushing your teeth, and keeping up your normal hygiene?
Difficulty concentrating and memory problems: Have you noticed that you cannot concentrate on even the simplest things or that you are having a lot of trouble remembering how to do normal tasks?
Changes in sleep patterns: Do you have trouble sleeping at nighttime because you are wide awake? Is it hard for you to stay awake during the day because you frequently feel groggy or drugged?
If you or your elder parent is experiencing some or all of these signs of being overmedicated, please make an appointment with the doctor to address all of your concerns. Be their advocate and be on alert to see if your elder parent is overmedicated.
Elayne has been a professional geriatric care manager for more than 25 years. She was a founding member of the Florida Geriatric Care Managers Association, and she is currently a member of the Case Management Society of America and the American Counseling Association. Elayne is a passionate and caring Alzheimer’s advocate, and a professional trainer and educator.