High Cost of Seniors’ Soaring Rx Drug Use
A recent study found that almost half (47 percent) of Americans age 75 and older took five or more prescription drugs in 2011, nearly double the 24 percent that did so in 1999, just 12 years earlier. The comparable percentage for Americans 65 to 74 also increased significantly — from 23 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2011. These results were reported by the Sightlines Project, a recent landmark study conducted by the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), which looked at steps individuals and society can take to contribute to overall well-being and longevity. The prescription drug use results have mixed interpretations. On the one hand, the trend is inevitable given the increase in chronic conditions medications can manage. Prescription drugs could be keeping these older Americans alive and living independently. On the other hand, research indicates that taking this number of medications increases the risks for confusion, dizziness and falls, as well as unanticipated drug interactions. And medical science just doesn’t know the consequences of taking several prescription drugs for 10, 20 or 30 years. To help counteract that lack of knowledge, SCL’s Sightlines report calls for more research into the risks vs. benefits of increased, long-term prescription drug use.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.