By Karen Idzik
The Seniors Centre for Excellence monthly luncheon on Thursday, June 28 featured Pharmacist Robin Brown, with the Mount Forest Family Health Team. He discussed how medications change as a person ages and the complications involved with taking multiple medications.
Brown discussed the “Myths of Aging” including that aging brings illness and disability, means losing mental sharpness and results in sadness and loneliness as well as being unproductive. He said aging really means changes in perspectives, maturity, and graying or no hair.
Aging is a natural process and Canadian seniors, over the age of 85, make up 13 per cent of the population.
Seniors consume 28 to 40 per cent of all medications prescribed, Brown said, and 87 per cent of seniors are on at least one medication. One third of seniors are on at least three medications, with 70 per cent on two prescriptions plus at least one over-the-counter medication.
He added that aging makes seniors more sensitive to the effects of medication, as their stomachs don’t process as quickly and the drugs stay in their system longer.
Brown said that taking five medications increases the risk for potential drug interactions by 50 per cent, while taking 10 increases the risk to 100 per cent. He said medications include not just prescription, but also over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal remedies.
When medications are used together, the drugs may alter the effects of one another or increase the risk of side effects.
Brown said natural products are not necessarily safer than prescriptions.
He said there are several reasons why seniors can have complications, including a lack of understanding their prescription, problems in brand name versus generic, forgetting doses, keeping old meds, not being able to see or read labels, and financial factors.
Brown said there are some side effects that have to be watched for as they can cause even more concern for seniors. Some of these include confusion, cognitive impairment, low blood pressure, and harm to kidneys.
He remained after the presentation to answer questions privately.