LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• What are the developmental trends in using medication?

• How does aging affect the way the medications work?

• What are the consequences of medication interactions?

• What are the important medication adherence issues?

L

ucy is an 80-year-old woman who has several chronic health problems. As a result, she takes 12 medications every day. She must follow the regimen very carefully; some of her medications must be taken with food, some on an empty stomach, and some at bedtime. Lucy’s daughter is concerned that Lucy may experience serious problems if she fails to take her medications properly.

One of the most important health issues for older adults is the use of both prescription and over-the – counter medications. In fact, older adults take more medications on average than any other age group, roughly half of all drugs prescribed in the United States (Shea, 2006). When over-the-counter drugs are included, this translates into about six or seven medications per older adult; Lucy takes more than the average. Like Lucy, most people take these drugs to relieve pain or related problems resulting from chronic conditions.