If you’re a typical senior, chances are you’re on at least 2 prescription drugs, and many of you are likely on several.
That’s according to a survey just carried out in the US where 88.4 % of people over the age of 60 were found to be on at least one prescription drug (I figure the other 11.6 % were probably not seeing a doctor), and 31 % of all Americans (not just seniors) were taking 2 or more prescription drugs, while a staggering 11% were taking 5 or more prescription drugs.
And note that those are drugs by prescription; most of those people, I am sure, were also taking at least one, and probably several over-the-counter preparations.
Now there would be nothing wrong with those numbers, if all those drugs were 1) prescribed for very good reasons, in other words, they were being taken either to prolong life or promote health, 2) they were all safe, 3) they were all effective at doing what they are supposed to do, and 4) there were very few drug interactions to worry about.
The sad truth, however, is that many prescription drugs are iffy in their effectiveness, their safety is always at issue (even after many years), and drug interactions are a huge concern, so that the more drugs you take, the greater the potential problems.
And unfortunately, the way our health care system works, it’s not always possible to go through all those variables in the typical visit with the family doctor.
Not only that but indications are always changing, that is, what the doctor told you about why you need a certain drug when you first got that prescription may no longer be valid, yet many people continue on prescriptions for years and years without asking if it’s still necessary to do so.
That’s why one of the most important friends you can make is your pharmacist. Your pharmacist is often the best person to ask about what a medication is supposed to be doing, what side effects you should expect, what potential complications to look for, what drug interactions you should be aware of, etc, etc.
Go ahead, the next time you get a prescription filled, talk to your pharmacist about that drug – you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.