In any event, one should understand how drugs would act within his or her body and thus be vigilant regarding the manifestations other than its intended effect when a drug is taken, especially in the elderly age group.
When a drug is taken, it is most likely to travel to the liver before it acts on a particular organ or on a tissue. In the liver, it may change to its active form and or else be re-distributed throughout the body to initiate its effect. Later on, the chemical entities of the drug would require the assistance of the kidneys to excrete itself.
Thus, it is paramount to know and state ones liver and kidney functioning by the elderly persons or their caregivers to the doctor prescribing medications. If the excretion process of the drug does not take place adequately, it would mean that excessive amounts of the drug would accumulate in the blood and can also lead to unwanted effects. At the same time, if the liver functions are deteriorated, certain drugs might not work properly or would give rise to unwanted effects and furthermore can sometimes damage the already deteriorated liver tissues.
At the same time, elderly individuals are likely to take more than one drug for different types of ailments and it can give rise to the danger of interactions between these drugs. Such interaction has the potential to either inhibit the action of a drug or else to exert a more extensive reaction as a combination. Furthermore, when the physiology within an elderly patient change, the metabolism and the functioning of certain drugs can also be deranged. Therefore, it is vital to assess each elderly person individually before prescribing medications and take appropriate measures or precautions as to prevent any complications from the medications which are intended for relief.
Let us now see some of these measures.
Do not take decisions yourself to increase, decrease or stop the drugs prescribed by a physician or any other doctor unless it has been advised. Inform any unusual feeling or manifestations to the doctor who prescribed the medications urgently. Keep a pill box to prevent double dosing, missing of medicines…etc. Do not take over the counter medicines if you are in several drugs as drug interactions is a possibility.
If OTC drugs are taken, inform the pharmacist regarding the drugs that you take in order to avoid such manifestations. Keep yourself well hydrated when taking medications. Inform the physician regarding a change in your health status such as infections, fever, poor urine output…etc to revise the drug intake. Keep the prescriptions at hand in case of an emergency. Store the drugs in a place where it is easily reachable to you. Know your drugs by name, its use and possible interactions as much as possible.
These measures are some of the few that can be taken by an elderly person who takes medications and in many instances; the caregivers would also have to know about these practical measures in order to avoid drug related complications.