Prescription Abuse among Older Adults

Older adults are at a higher risk than other age groups of prescription misuse or abuse. Often, we associate older adults with wisdom. They have more lived experience, of course, than any other age group. But, 30% of adults in this age bracket are prescribed 5 or more prescripts. And more than 80% of older adults are prescribed at least one prescription. With the increase in prescriptions, comes the increase risk of misuse or abuse of prescription drugs.

As we get older, our metabolisms slow down which further effects that way in which prescription drugs interact in our bodies. We, also, tend to take more over-the-counter medications and supplements as we age, in order to get all of the needed nutrients and to manage components of aging. It is important to keep a list of all medications, including supplements and over-the-counter medications, when going to the doctor. This will allow the doctor to know exactly what you are taking, so that they will not prescribe anything that is either not needed or will react poorly to other medications you are taking.

Aside from keeping a log of medications and supplements, using a weekly or even daily pill organizer is a great way to decrease the risk of medication misuse. Using an organizer helps to fill potential memory gaps, because it allows for a visualization of exactly what pills have been taken and what pills are left for the day or week. This is especially helpful for those who have more than one or two medications per day.

If you find yourself experiencing side effects of medication or not knowing the purpose of a medication, reach out to your doctor. They can inform you not only of the purpose of the medication, but also be able to inform you if you still have a need for the medication. Always read the labels of your prescriptions, and if something does not look right, say something.
When there is an excess of medication that is only an as needed medication or a temporary medication, it is crucial to dispose of the remaining medication properly. All medications can be brought to a dropbox location which will properly dispose of the medication for you. For dropbox locations, click here.
The FDA also recommends to “mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds then place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag, and finally throw the container in your household trash.” Also, make sure to rip off all labels or scribble out the personal information on the bottle before disposal.

The FDA does NOT recommend flushing medications, as this can pollute the waterways.