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Overmedication is chronic reality for elderly

BY DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ Modified: November 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012
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Particularly serious are Xanax and Ativan, which are prescribed for anxiety, and Ambien, a frequently used sedative. Often more than one tranquilizer and sleeping pill is prescribed that cause drowsiness — and lead to depression. As a consequence, antidepressants are added to the medication list.

Many of these patients also have pain, and are often on hydrocodone or a morphine derivative as well as other medications, such as gabapentin that partially relieve pain but also affect mood and sleep. From that point on, differentiating symptoms from drugs or disease becomes very difficult. And a symptom caused by a drug side effect can lead to prescription of more drugs.

No matter your age, there must always be a serious understanding of the devastating negative side effects of many powerful drugs. When used appropriately, narcotics are a godsend and improve the quality of life of patients with severe pain. And, of course, therapy to relieve serious symptoms should never be denied.

However, if multiple chronic diseases are present, nothing is more critical than having one physician in charge of all aspects of care. The important role of the responsible physician must be to reduce medication use to a minimum while assuring that the patient achieves the needed relief.

Today overuse of medications and their side effects are as serious an illness as heart disease, cancer or stroke. Once the age of 70 is reached, find one physician who truly coordinates care, questions the use of every medication and understands the key role of the pharmacist in providing you with key information on the upside and downside of all those drugs swallowed morning, noon and night.

Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking The Rules Of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. More information is available at: DrDavidHealth.com

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