As people age, their metabolism changes. When you think about metabolism, you probably think about eating and, perhaps, weight gain. However, have you ever considered how metabolism changes can affect the way the body uses medications? Changes to the way the liver breaks down substances and the kidneys eliminate waste products can result in unexpected side effects from medications. In fact, 1 out of every 6 older adults experiences a harmful side effect from their medicine. Below are some common side effects that may occur in seniors.
Pain and Weakness
Between 10 and 15 percent of elderly people experience muscle pain or weakness because of their medications. One of the kinds of drugs that may cause this are statins, which are often taken for high cholesterol. People who are at the highest risk for this side effect include:
- Older adults who are frail and thin.
- Those with hypothyroidism.
- People who drink alcohol excessively.
Balance and Thinking Problems
Certain medications may cause problems with balance, which can lead to dangerous falls. Some may also cause difficulty with thinking. Some kinds of medications that may cause these side effects are sedatives and anticholinergics, which are used for things like allergies, overactive bladder, and nerve pain.
Believe it or not, taking antibiotics frequently can lead to heart disease. One study showed that women older than 60 who took antibiotics for at least a total of 2 months over a 7-year period were 32 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Experts believe this occurs because the antibiotics change the bacteria in the gut, which results in changes to metabolites in the bloodstream, leading to heart disease.
Stronger Than Intended Effect
Because medications may be metabolized at a different rate than in a younger person, they sometimes have more of an effect that the doctor meant for them to have. For example, the doctor may prescribe your older relative a medication for lowering their blood pressure, but it could lower it too much, causing them to feel dizzy or lightheaded. Or, a blood sugar medication might lower blood sugar too much, which can also lead to falls.
If your older adult family member is taking multiple medications, a senior care provider can help to watch for side effects. Senior care providers can get emergency help if needed, or report symptoms to family caregivers. Senior care providers can also make sure the elderly person is taking the medicine properly by reminding them when it’s time to take it and ensuring they don’t mistakenly take an extra dose because they forgot they took their medicine already.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care in Spokane, WA, please contact the friendly staff at Love at Home Senior Care, today. Call (509)204-4088
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