June 2014 is National Safety Month!

June has been historically known as National Safety Month. National Safety Month always coincides with the beginning of summer. The National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. They have broken the month into four areas to pay attention to, i.e. Prevent prescription drug abuse; Stop slips, trips and falls; Summer Safety and Put an end to distracted driving.

Our blog will simply address the Prescription Drug Abuse topic. Medication management is a very common problem in older adults. Unfortunately, older adults are at higher risk for prescription drug abuse because they take more prescription medicines than other age groups. Americans 65 years of age or older make up only 13% of the U.S. population, yet they consume approximately 33% of all prescription drugs. Older adults are also at risk for prescription drug abuse because they often take more than one prescription medicine each day. This increases the risk for mistakes when taking the medicines and for drug interactions. In addition, growing older slows down your liver’s ability to filter medicines out of your body. This means that an older adult might become addicted to or have side effects from a prescription drug at a lower dose than a younger adult.

Pills And Water

If you care for or spend time with an older adult, pay attention to his or her medicines and behavior. A person who is addicted to a prescription drug may:

  • Get a prescription for the same medicine from 2 different doctors
  • Fill a prescription for the same medicine at 2 different pharmacies
  • Take more of a prescription medicine than they used to or take more than is instructed on the label
  • Take the medicine at different times or more often than is instructed on the label
  • Have behavior changes, such as becoming more withdrawn or angry
  • Often think or talk about a medicine
  • Be afraid to go without taking a medicine
  • Be uncomfortable or defensive when you ask about the medicine
  • Make excuses for why they need a medicine
  • Store “extra” pills in their purse or in their pocket
  • Sneak or hide medicine
  • Have been treated for alcohol, drug, or prescription drug abuse in the past

If you see discrepancies in your loved one’s medications, or notice some of the above behaviors, consult his or her primary care physician. Gather medication lists and as much information as you can prior to seeing the doctor.

Sources: National Safety Council & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention