ElderLaw News ā€” The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. ā€” MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Medications and Seniors

Medications are the most effective and popular tool physicians use to treat and cure illnesses. As time progresses, there are more and more medications available for the treatment of disease.

This progress in medicine allows us to live longer and more independently than ever before. At the same time, it seems that we may be taking too many pills. As a group, older Americans take more medications than any other portion of the U.S. population. The use of medications in older adults is likely the result of the increased occurrences of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Without the effective use of medications, these conditions would be uncontrollable, and they could lead to disastrous results for many older Americans. As advantageous as medications may be, however, there are associated risks that appear to be amplified as an individual ages.

Physically, as the body ages, the ability to absorb medications into the blood stream changes. This affects how the medications react once they have been taken. Many older adults are taking a variety of medications to control more than one chronic condition. Problems with medications can manifest themselves in a number of ways. The first and most common is that the individual may experience adverse side effects that occur in addition to the desired therapeutic effect. Side effects may vary depending on the individual's disease state, weight, gender, ethnicity, and general health. The older an individual is, however, the more likely the individual is to experience side effects.

Another, more problematic issue with medications is drug interactions. Drug interactions occur when the combination of two or more medications causes a negative reaction. There are three types of drug interactions described by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The following is taken from the FDA website:

Drug-condition interactions occur when a medical condition you already have makes certain drugs potentially harmful. For example, if you have high blood pressure or asthma, you could have an unwanted reaction if you take a nasal decongestant.

Drug-food interactions result from drugs reacting with foods or drinks. In some cases, food in the digestive track can affect how a drug is absorbed. Some medicines also may affect the way nutrients are absorbed or used in the body.

Drug-alcohol interactions can happen when the medicine you take reacts with an alcoholic drink. For instance, mixing alcohol with some medicines may cause you to feel tired and slow your reactions.

In order to get the best results possible from your medicines and avoid the interactions described above, The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm suggests you take the following steps:

Keep an updated list of current medications with you and share them with each physician you see. Many problems arise when an individual sees multiple physicians and none of them is completely informed about other prescribed medications.

Be sure to tell your physician of all medications you take, especially over-the-counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins.

Limit alcoholic beverages if instructed by a physician. Americans over the age of 65 consume more alcoholic beverages than any other age group in America. Studies show a small amount of alcohol can have health benefits, but too much alcohol causes problems.

Take all medications exactly as prescribed, and, if you find yourself having a problem with a medication, then make an appointment to see your physician. Do not simply stop taking any medicine.

Consult a pharmacist. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy certifies pharmacists as Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (ā€œCGPā€). Individuals with a CGP designation have demonstrated expertise in the principles of geriatric pharmacotherapy and the provision of pharmaceutical care to the elderly. If you are an older adult and have questions regarding how your medicines affect you, then you may consider having a CGP perform a medication review. While the CGP cannot change your medicines, the CGP can analyze how you are taking your medications and make suggestions for you to take to your physician to help you get an improved result.

Medicines allow us to live longer, happier, and healthier, but as with anything else, too much can be a bad thing. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm recommends that seniors be proactive when it comes to medications. If you are interested in having a medication review, The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm can assist you with finding a CGP.


If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
Virginia (703) 243-3200
Washington DC (202) 223-0270

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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