The average nursing home resident takes more than six prescription medications every day, and this number is only increasing.Scarily, many of the most common medications – pain relievers, sedatives,and psychoactive drugs – are also the most dangerous.
Helping your loved one understand their medical information can seem confusing and overwhelming, but it’s incredibly important. Below, our nursing home lawyers explain the most dangerous medications for the elderly.
Medications Can Cause Falls
Certain drugs, like opiates, sleep medications, muscle relaxers, and antipsychotics, significantly increase the risk of falling. A new study found that elderly patients taking benzodiazepines, like Xanax, are much more likely to fall than their peers who weren’t taking these drugs.
Researchers also found that most of these patients were given higher than recommended doses of the drugs. Overprescribing is also an extremely dangerous, but common, issue. Check your loved one’s doses next time you visit and make sure it matches their doctor’s orders.
Many Medications Come with Added Risks for the Elderly
Certain medications – specifically antipsychotics, opioids, and antibiotics – have serious warnings for elderly patients. These medications can increase the elderly’s risk of:
- Early death
- Broken bones and head injuries from falls
- Malnutrition and dehydration
Years of studies show that residents with dementia or Parkinson’s who take an antipsychotic medication have a greater risk of early death. Popular antipsychotics include Seroquel, Lexapro, Risperdal, Haldol, and Zyprexa. In 2008, the FDA put black box warnings on all antipsychotic drugs, alerting the public about the increased risk of death in elderly dementia patients.
In addition to antipsychotic overuse, officials at Medicare are also concerned about the number of elderly people receiving opioids, which are powerful painkillers. Common opioids include Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin and fentanyl.
Overdose and addiction aren’t just problems among the young; older adults are also at risk. Doctors recommend alternatives to help manage chronic pain, such as yoga, meditation, and walking.
Sepsis is a leading cause of death among nursing home residents. A recent study found a link between antibiotic use and sepsis. Researchers found patients were 80% more likely to develop sepsis after treatment with high-risk antibiotics.
The risk of sepsis rises with the length of time the patient’s on the drug, regardless of what type of antibiotic they’re taking. These findings reinforce the idea that antibiotics render patients more vulnerable to serious infections later on.
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We’ve Been Representing Nursing Home Residents & Families for 30 Years
Our nursing home injury lawyers are here to help you and your family every step of the way. We’ve been fighting for residents’ rights for 30 years, and know how difficult it is to see a loved one hurt by someone else’s carelessness. We’re here to help. Call our nursing home lawyers at 800.933.4159 for a free review. We represent clients nationwide.