A growing public health problem among older adults is the misuse and abuse of prescription medications. One indicator of this dangerous trend is a 121 % increase in emergency visits involving medication misuse and abuse from 2004 to 2008. Most of the misused medications are obtained legally through prescriptions and the misuse is unintentional. For more information on this topic and how to safeguard your elderly loved ones, see the Older Americans Behavioral Health Issue Brief 5: Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse Among Older Adults available at www.aoa.gov.
Seniors are particularly at risk for unintentional mistakes as they may be prescribed several medications. A few simple steps such as easy to read instructions, pill dispensers, and storage may prevent a tragedy. Rosen & Spears encourage caregivers, family and friends to act proactively regarding medications of their loved ones. Become familiar with the medications, what they are treating, what side-effects to monitor, and make sure the pharmacy and providers know all the medications that are being prescribed to avoid problematic interactions.