Substance Abuse and the Elderly: How Not To Over-Medicate

One major problem that affects a lot of people each year is the over medication of the elderly. As medications are mostly prescribed to most elderly people in order to maintain their health, a lot of them are becoming overmedicated. This problem is considered dangerous and even life-threatening and deserves immediate professional attention.

Topping the list of the most commonly prescribed drugs for the elderly are thyroid drugs, cholesterol drugs, and blood pressure drugs. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Information however states that the most commonly prescribed medication for the elderly in 2011 was a drug known as hydrocodone which is notorious for being highly addictive. It is also known to cause a great deal of harm to the organs including the kidneys and liver, particularly if the patient is old as he may already be suffering from problems in those organs. Some medical professionals ask why this drug is given to the elderly in the first place as it makes them more susceptible to more health problems compared to other medications. For a lot of elderly people, this is the situation they are currently is, as this happens not only with hydrocodone, but with several medications as well.

Signs of an Overmedicated Elderly Person

The following are some of the problems an elderly person may exhibit that may indicate the likelihood of overmedication:

Mood swings – Serious mood swings among elderly people can be a sign of severe overmedication. These people can very quickly go from one extreme to the next, as the medications in their systems can significantly impact their emotional balance.   

Confusion – One major sign of overmedication in the elderly is excessive confusion. This may involve not knowing what certain words mean, where the person is all of a sudden, or anything else out of the ordinary that sets off a bizarre response.

Poor balance – As their bodies have gotten older and are incapable of doing the same things they used to, most elderly people have difficulty holding their balance. When a stronger, consistent occurrence of lack of coordination and poor balance occurs, it can mean that overmedication is occurring, as the body and mind are being adversely affected.

In an overmedicated elderly person, a lot of the possible symptoms can be mistaken to be normal signs of aging.  Know the normal temperaments of your elderly loved ones so you may be able to distinguish between their normal characteristics and things outside of the ordinary. Know the level of their current cognitive skills. Be aware of how they solve problems, what they retain, and how they learn. The most effective way to recognize if something is off in your loved one is to know their personality and traits. This can help you accurately diagnose his symptoms and give him the best care possible in order to remain healthy.