8 Common Medication Types The Elderly Take For Their Health

When we age, our bodily processes slow down, leading to various ailments or aggravating ongoing health problems. Unsurprisingly, most of the elderly take an assortment of medicines to treat various conditions.

Often, the elderly struggle with many things, including taking medicines properly, especially when it comes to taking the correct dosage and timing.  In this case, it may be best to have a family member or a trusted person to administer the drugs.

Here are the most common medicines prescribed to the elderly and their potential side effects:

1.     Pain relievers

Medicines to manage pain can either be bought over the counter (OTC) or with prescription. Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen are common OTC drugs.

Some older adults, however, need stronger doses to keep pain at bay. In such cases, prescription pain relievers are recommended, with Hydrocodone being the most common. They’re considered as the last resort to pain medication and are only prescribed if medicines and other treatments have failed to offer relief.

Potential side effects: Classified as an opioid pain reliever, Hydrocodone is highly addictive, and is, therefore, recommended only for patients suffering from severe pain.

2.     Anti- inflammatory drugs

Corticosteroid use in the elderly is quite common.Corticosteroids are known for their strong anti-inflammatory effects, and they impact the body in many ways, including the regulation of immune system functions. Our body produces them naturally, but they can sometimes suffer from abnormalities, thus the need for medicines to regulate them.

Available in both oral and injectable forms, these drugs are used for diseases that are commonly associated with aging such as arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, ulcerative colitis, skin rashes, and other allergic conditions.

Synthetic steroids called glucocorticoid corticosteroids are used to treat lupus, severe psoriasis, leukemia, anemia, and lymphomas. These corticosteroids are also used to suppress the immune system and prevent organ rejection in people who were subject of transplantation.

Senior Caucasian female with her hand on the stomach looking at a bottle of pills

Hydrocortisone, cortisone, dexamethasone, and prednisone are the most common glucocorticoids. You can go online to check for prednisone prices as well as those of the other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Potential side effects: These drugs may cause fluid retention, weight gain, potassium loss, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and slow wound healing. In severe cases, corticosteroid use may cause psychiatric issues such as mania, depression, psychosis, and delirium.

3.     Statins

Statins are used to minimizethe number of triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) present in the blood. This balancing act aims to reduce the risks of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart diseases. For instance, Simvastatin works by reducing the liver’s production of cholesterol.

Potential side effects: In rare cases, people taking statins may experience mild memory problems or confusion. If these rare effects occur, talk to your doctor.

4.     ACE inhibitors

If you’re one of the many who suffer from high blood pressure, you may be familiar with

Lisinopril and ACE inhibitors taken to prevent congestive heart failure. These reduce the likelihood of death from heart attacks and high blood pressure by widening the patient’s blood vessels, allowing blood to flow seamlessly.

Potential Side effects: Dizziness, lightheadedness, and headache are the most common side effects. Dry cough may also occur in some.

5.     Thyroid hormone drugs

Thyroid hormones are vital in promoting physical and mental health in individuals. In the elderly, thyroid functions can get faulty, and most of them require thyroid hormone to help regulate the body’s normal processes.

Levothyroxine is commonly used to treat hypothyroidism which occurs when the thyroid glands cannot produce enough hormones that impact the heart rate and metabolism. It works by increasing thyroid hormones.

Potential side effects: A patient may experience hair loss as the body adjusts to the medicine. In some instances, it may cause increased sweating, shaking, diarrhea, headache, bone pain, shortness of breath, and mood swings.

6.     Blood pressure medications

High blood pressure is a common symptom among adults, and two of the most common medications used to manage these symptoms include Amlodipine Besylate and Hydrochlorothiazide.

Blood pressure medications typically work by facilitating better blood flow, slowing down the heartbeat and decreasing each beat’s strength. Doing these helps prevent serious health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems to occur.

Potential side Effects: Dizziness, headache, and upset stomach are common side effects of these types of medicines. Vision problems and eye pain may likewise occur in some people.

7.     Proton pump inhibitors

Stomach problems hound older adults, and Omeprazole is often prescribed to them. This type of medicine is classified as a proton-pump inhibitor used to treat esophageal damage, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, and stomach ulcers. It works mainly by reducing stomach acid production.

Potential side effects: Headache, abdominal pain and muscle spasms as well as rashes may occur in some patients.

8.     Diabetes medications

Another common disease plaguing the elderly, diabetes is one of the top causes of deaths worldwide. Older adults with this condition are advised to take Metformin which, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, doesn’t treat diabetes but manages the symptoms. It works to control the blood sugar in the body, and helps prevent kidney disease, nerve problems, and blindness. It can also aid in reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Potential side effects: Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, weakness, diarrhea.

Key Takeaway

As with any type of drugs, all of the medications on this list, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, should be taken as directed by the physician. In case of discomfort, don’t wait for the symptoms to worsen before calling your doctor.