Drugs, Older Persons, and Communication Impairment Medication usage is a fact of life for a significant number of older persons. The approximately 12.6 million persons who are 65 years of age or older receive 35% of all prescriptions written in the United States and use 70% of the nonprescription over-the-counter drugs sold. In general, the ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 1999
Drugs, Older Persons, and Communication Impairment
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Deanie B. Vogel
    Communication Disorders Program, Our Lady of the Lake University, Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   August 01, 1999
Drugs, Older Persons, and Communication Impairment
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, August 1999, Vol. 4, 3-8. doi:10.1044/gero4.1.3
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, August 1999, Vol. 4, 3-8. doi:10.1044/gero4.1.3
Medication usage is a fact of life for a significant number of older persons. The approximately 12.6 million persons who are 65 years of age or older receive 35% of all prescriptions written in the United States and use 70% of the nonprescription over-the-counter drugs sold. In general, the oldest elderly (over age 85), the most rapidly increasing segment of the United States population, have multiple medical problems that are treated with multiple drugs (Greenhouse, 1992; Vogel & Carter, 1998).
At least 90% of all persons aged 65 or older take at least one drug every day. Older community-dwelling individuals consume an average of 2–4 prescription medications per day, while residents of nursing homes take an average of 6–8 medications daily. Approximately one-third of admissions of older persons to acute care facilities are drug related and approximately one-fourth of admissions to long term care facilities are related to use of unsafe medications. Unwanted side effects of drugs are four to seven times more common in older than in younger persons. This may occur because older people experience more severe illnesses that interfere with the ability to tolerate medicines. In addition, changes in body composition and function due to aging often alter drug action.
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