You might think that falls and mental confusion are just a part of growing old, but are they? Older Americans use prescription drugs three times as much as other people and frequently use several different medications for different health problems. It's easy to take the wrong combinations or take too many pills. And medications prescribed for and during traumatic events are often difficult to stop taking. Tranquilizers or sleeping pills, commonly prescribed for anxiety, depression or insomnia, may be overly prescribed and can easily become addictive.
Because medication misuse can happen unintentionally, it's important to know if you may have a problem or may potentially be over-medicating. Seniors are therefore encouraged to keep a prescription diary, to ask their doctor or pharmacist questions about their medications and possible interactions. This is important if someone is receiving prescriptions from more than one source. The diary can be an effective health care tool when visiting a variety of caregivers.
Caring for ourselves and our loved ones shouldn't be harder than it is. If you or someone you love is concerned about the misuse of medications, you can contact the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at 463-3755 or visit the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Web site at www.cadca.org.
Beverly A. Mueller
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence