Tag Archives: elderly

The needs of the older generation being met by prescribed medication?

I’m a great believer in respecting our elders and them passing on their knowledge and experience to help us get on in life. Yes, many have outdated ideas or perceptions of “the youth today” and have old fashioned values. But they are still here, many into their 80’s and 90’s. Many are fitter than us mid lifers. So why is it that as soon as you are 65 or pensionable age, you are considered by current legislation, an older person. That’s the age we should start to decline, shouldn’t be working or maybe not long on this mortal coil?

We may have reasonable health and fitness most of our working life but it’s at this point, earlier for some and much later for others, that especially after retirement, we “start to fall apart”. The mind set for many?

All the education we have about getting older gracefully, keep active physically or mentally, something kicks in and we start to have “problems”.

Many are lucky and can keep going but with many more this mind set of getting older brings on comparing ailments and frequent trips to the surgery and with it automatic prescriptions. We’ve been used to being prescribed medication throughout our years but usually only short term, 1 week, a month. But as we get older the prescriptions are ongoing, repeated every month, without need to see a doctor. Yes they have reviews but how many people remember how they felt before being prescribed. Some even admit to not following their medication guidelines.

It seems standard that most have at least 4 prescribed meds. Ailments usually arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and more often than not, have been victim of a stroke. May have only been a TIA, but medication suddenly gets tripled and doesn’t get questioned. A few do look at their life style and diet so as to refrain from having to take anything, but most accept they are getting older and increased medication comes with the territory.

In my work I have met people who will not go to have their cataracts removed or go for that hearing test their children keep on at them about, but will accept the side effects from the multiple medications they are on. This is often out of fear that something will go wrong or that they’ll seem like an elderly person. Yet unknowing either having more health problems as a result of long term use or becoming addicted to certain medication.

What are our older population being prescribed? How do we know which are not appropriate for elderly use. Some antipsychotic drugs may not be appropriate for our older population with dementia especially women as can worsen confusion. Some drugs can have adverse effects or even have no effect at all due to long term usage.

When visiting our local surgeries, we never get to see our doctor anymore. It could be another partner or a locum. All experienced and qualified, but may not know our history. When discharged from hospital, additional medication is prescribed. More work is needed to educate our older trusting more vulnerable members of our communities to ensure their medication is appropriate, in date, not counter active to other medication prescribed and most important, the side effects are not going to be life threatening.

Further reading

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/389014/Fears-over-lazy-GPs-prescribing-strong-sleeping-pills-to-elderly

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/aging-and-drugs/aging-and-drugs

(C.W. actively works to ensure that all older people are safe, secure and their needs are appropriately met.)

Living with the mental and physical impact of medication.

Having worked with older and disabled people over the last 13 years in the third sector, my experience of clients knowledge and understanding of their prescribed medication can sometimes be astounding.

I essentially help people get their homes adapted, maintained and made safe so that they are able to live independently. This can also involve general advice and assisting with benefit and disability allowances applications.

Many of my clients are aged over 70 and come from an era where whatever their professional, whether it be a doctor, nurse or specialist say or prescribes, that is what they believe is right. They feel that it is disrespectful to challenge or refuse the medication. Very few will stand up and say they don’t agree.

Even if the medication they are taking makes them feel worse, very few will go against the advice of their GP.

I do not confess to be a medical expert but in my experience with older and vulnerable people, I can identify particular health problems and noted side effects. Long term pain killer use as well as being addictive also can cause memory loss. Many people don’t know that and worry that Dementia is setting in. Majority of people are on gastro pump inhibitors to prevent or heal ulcers and stomach problems. Usually originally caused by other medication. These should only be used short term as they in turn can cause other more serious health problems and coming off them can also experience extreme versions of what the medication was for.

When asking many of my clients which medication they are taking, the usual answer is “lots” or I’m rattling. If asked what each is for, many don’t actually know. They may have been told many years ago but can’t remember. When asked do they read the information leaflet, if they were interested at all some say it’s in too small print or they get the dosette box with no leaflet. This is probably not the case but as they get older it is taken for granted that their health is going to suffer, medication may make some things more bearable and so best not to know the effects or if it might be addictive. Even when medication is reviewed, many don’t like to admit to any problems. I find much of this out when applying for mobility allowances such as Attendance Allowance. This is possibly the only time they will be completely honest about all their health problems.

Even when medication is reviewed, many don’t like to admit to any problems. I find much of this out when applying for mobility allowances such as Attendance Allowance. This is possibly the only time they will be completely honest about all their health problems.

Why when in hospital are patients woken up to be given sleeping tablets?

Just because someone is getting older, their health problems should be diagnosed by listening to the problems not just throwing medication at it.

We know that we can learn about controlling some health issues by diet, exercise or relaxation therapies, why aren’t older people being offered more of this instead of them having to take 4 or more, some up to 15 different medications in one day.

How many of those medications are addictive or have extreme side effects or will be fatal if forgotten to be taken.

I always believed that we are told to understand our own bodies first then ask advice, but it seems if many people have the audacity to make their own opinion of their medication of diagnosis this will be frowned upon.

I have had occasions where I have had to leave homes of clients because their spouse has become irate even verbally abusive. The explanation is that it is the medication causing it or that I shouldn’t visit before a certain time in order to give the medication time to kick in. Again not being a medical expert I cannot say that these are true effects or if they are used as an excuse for behaviour. But if more education to the medication available and being prescribed was available and in simple terms and people were given more choices instead of told?

Many older people when they start suffering with physical health problems start to suffer with depression and anxiety or are diagnosed bi polar. I can see the downward spiral to many of these peoples lives when given medication rather than alternative therapies or counselling about lifestyle or even just changes to their daily routine. When asked about their health issues, they start with the mental health rather than the obvious physical problems. They feel powerless and give up. Those not taking up the medication can often combat this and mange to regain the control of their life, regain their social life and try and help others.

When asked about their health issues, they start with the mental health rather than the obvious physical problems. They feel powerless and give up. Those not taking up the medication can often combat this and mange to regain the control of their life, regain their social life and try and help others.

Many thanks to our contributor:

C.W.