DRUG-RELATED PROBLEMS IN THE ELDERLY
The experts reported that 89% of the elderly population in Turkey had chronic diseases, and they often experienced decreased quality of life due to side effects of poly drug use. It was stated that approximately 32% of the elderly used two, 23% used three, and 14% used four and more drugs for prolonged periods, and at least one of those drugs was uncalled for during treatment.
Huriye Vural, Lecturer at IUE Vocational School of Health Services, stated that due to changes in metabolism with age, the risk of adverse drug effects increased. She said, "Increasing risk of adverse drug effects cause decrease in quality of life and increase in death risk.”
‘Rational Use of Drugs’
Vural remarked that the elderly visited many doctors and received many different prescriptions. "The fact that individuals can get over-the-counter drugs easily, or get medication from others increases their tendency to poly drug use. Also, being hospitalized in the last six months, depression, or being poorly educated are among the causes for poly drug use. Sometimes they do need to use many drugs, in that case what matters is not the total number of drugs taken but taking them rationally,” reported Vural.
How to Take Drugs?
Rational use of drugs enhances quality of life and prolongs life in the elderly, stated Vural and she pointed that drugs should be used when prescribed by the physician. She suggested that drugs should be taken for the right reasons, at the right time and in right amount. Vural made the following recommendations for the elderly on use of drugs:
"They should not use based on hearsay or to their liking. They should not stop using drugs even if their complaints are over. They should inform the doctor about the drugs they are using or about their previous treatments. Again they should inform the doctor if they smoke or consume alcohol or caffeinated beverages, or use herbal products. They should not use any other drugs or seek alternative treatments without informing their doctor. They should not recommend their drugs to others or borrow from others. They should be aware of possible side effects of the drugs they are using. They should also inform their family or caregivers about the drugs they use. If they are to use multi drugs, they should know how and when to take them, and their adverse effects. They should pay attention to store them appropriately, and stay away from using unpackaged, damaged, expired drugs.”