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Elderly Adults at Higher Risk for Adverse Drug Side Effects

Published on Feb 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm in Nursing Home Neglect.

Whenever you’re taking medication, there’s a chance of experiencing side effects. Seniors are at a higher risk of having side effects from their medications. Medical professionals need to listen to their patients and help them balance their medications so they can treat their conditions but not suffer from extreme side effects.

In elderly adults, side effects from medications can affect their overall health. For those who live in nursing homes, they need quality care and attention to ensure their safety and they’re getting the best medication possible. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case. If you think your loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse, you can stand up for their rights. The Milwaukee nursing home abuse lawyers at Urban & Taylor will help you get your loved one the justice they deserve.

How Drug Interactions Can Produce Side Effects

Older people typically have more fat and retain less water, which affects how they react to medications. This makes the liver and kidneys function slowly, so the body doesn’t process the medication the same as a younger adult. Drugs could stay in their systems longer than usual and could pose challenges with coordination and balance.

Some drugs are called “high benefit, high risk” medications because they can help a person, but the side effects are dangerous. Blood thinners, insulin, heart disease medication, and opioids are all examples of high benefit, high risk medications.

There are three kinds of drug interactions that can determine the side effects you experience:

  • Drug-Condition Interactions. When you’re taking a new medication, it might have an adverse effect to a condition you already have.
  • Drug-Alcohol Interactions. Medications rarely react well with alcohol. It affects your reaction time, coordination, and memory.
  • Drug-Food Interactions. Some medications are supposed to be taken with food. When there’s food in your system, it affects how your body absorbs the medication.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The CDC reports that for every case known, 23 cases of elder abuse go unreported. This statistic shows that people need to look out for their loved one to make sure they’re getting the best care. If you suspect a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, look for these signs:

  • Look for physical signs like unusual bruises or cuts, nutrition issues, or trouble sleeping.
  • Anxiety, PTSD, or significant shifts in behavior could indicate that your loved one is being abused.

Many nursing home problems stem from understaffing. When the staff to patient ratio gets too unbalanced, the residents are the ones who suffer. While those working at the nursing home might have good intentions, they aren’t able to provide the level of care that your loved one deserves.

Without the correct amount of staff, your loved one might not have someone checking on them for a long time, or have an inconsistent medication schedule. Your loved one might have drug-condition or drug-food interactions that go unnoticed because there aren’t enough people working at the nursing home.

What If Your Loved One Experiences Drug Side Effects?

While it may be impossible for your loved one to avoid any side effects while taking a new medication, you can take steps to track how the medication affects them and if there are other options that may work better.

  • Keep a List. Write down the medications your loved one is taking, including the dosage and what each drug is taken for. A doctor might notice that some of the drugs might not interact well with each other.
  • Inform Doctors of Changes. People might mistake side effects for symptoms or accept that they have to deal with the new feeling. Tell your loved one’s doctor about any changes and they might be able to identify it as a side effect.
  • Seek Alternatives. Giving your loved one’s doctor the combined information of your list and how the medications make your family member feel, they might be able to recommend alternatives so your loved one don’t have to continue experiencing side effects.

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to help protect your loved one from experiencing negative drug side effects is to simply be there for them, listen, observe, take an active role in their care, and take appropriate action when necessary.

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