Keep Older Adults Safe from the Risks of Overdose
Older adults face unique risks when it comes to prescription medication. Whether you're an older adult yourself, a caregiver, or simply have older family members, you can take action to decrease the risks.
Many people need to take multiple medications as they get older. This creates many possible ways to mix up medications or doses. Also, other substances like alcohol can interact with prescription medications. Even over-the-counter vitamins can pose a risk.
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The Risks of Overdose Affect Everyone
- 7-10% increase in risk for an adverse drug event (ADE) with each medication you take
- 34.5% of adults aged 60-79 used at least 5 prescription drugs in the past 30 days
- 750 older adults hospitalized each day due to side effects from one or more medications
- 150,000 estimated premature deaths in the next 10 years from ADEs
- Lown Institute, Eliminating Medication Overload: A National Action Plan, 2020
- Hales CM, Servais J, Martin CB, Kohen D. Prescription drug use among adults aged 40–79 in the United States and Canada. NCHS Data Brief, no 347. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.
Unique Risks that Older Adults Face
Older adults face unique challenges that raise their risks for overdose. Caregivers, loved ones, and health care professionals can help manage these risks.
- Cognitive issues that can make it harder to keep track of details
- Multiple chronic conditions that require multiple medications
- Older adults' bodies process medications differently and often slower
- Teeters, J.B., Lancaster, C.L., Brown, D.G., & Back, S.E. (2017). Substance use disorders in military veterans: prevalence and treatment challenges. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. 8, 69-77. doi:10.2147/SAR.S116720.
- National Institute on Aging, 2021
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Evidence-Based Resources from Trusted Sources
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