Polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications at the same time, is an increasing reality for our older adult population. It’s an important topic to consider and something that many people will need to manage. These chemical compounds can interact with each other in negative ways that can impact the health of your mind and body. Educating yourself about your health and your medications can go a long way toward ensuring your wellbeing.
Keep reading below for a breakdown of the risks of polypharmacy and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why Is Mixing Medications Dangerous?
Medications are carefully designed to alter the body in a way that is beneficial for their user. However, just like with chemicals in a lab, different medications can have unexpected consequences when combined.
For example, Warfarin is a blood thinner that is used by people with heart conditions to avoid cardiac episodes, but if someone were to also use aspirin to manage headaches and migraines, the combination of the two can lead to the excessive bleeding of minor injuries.
Who Is Most At-Risk?
Anyone who requires multiple medications can be in danger of harmful side effects, but our nation’s seniors are the ones most at risk. This is especially true for seniors see multiple doctors and those that do not have relatives checking up on them frequently.
Adults with intellectual disabilities are also at risk, with more than 20% of them found to be engaging in polypharmacy.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The best way to protect yourself from the potential dangerous medication mixes is to educate yourself as best as you can on each of your medications. Talk to your doctor about any medications they prescribe, including any risks or combinations that you should avoid. Be sure to keep a list of all your current medications and take it with you to every doctor visit, especially if you have different providers or specialists.
Once you leave the doctor’s office, it’s also important to make sure you are getting all of your medications from just one pharmacy, as the staff will become more familiar with your orders and will notice if there are any dangerous combinations in your packages.
Because medications can be confusing and difficult to track, accidentally missing or doubling up on doses can occur. Pillboxes can be helpful for monitoring intake. There are also technological solutions, like the free apps Pill Reminder and Medisafe that have the tools users need to track individual medications and set unique reminders throughout the day.
Sana Behavioral Hospital is here to support our elder population experiencing challenges to their mental health and wellbeing. If you or someone you care about is experiencing behavioral or addiction issues, call Sana Behavioral Hospital today at 928-227-3424 or visit our website to speak to one of our healthcare professionals about how Sana can help you or your loved one.