How Medication Misuse Occurs

Older adults are especially more vulnerable to misuse and abuse of drugs for a variety of reasons:

  • They take more prescription medications than any other age group.  Polypharmacy, common in older adults, refers to taking multiple medications concurrently to manage coexisting health problems, such as diabetes and hypertension and chronic pain. These medications typically include Vitamins and over the counter medications as well.
  • Older adults do not always think it is necessary to consult with their health care providers about the vitamins and over the counter medications they take
  • During the aging process we experience changes in our body weight, circulation and metabolism that alter how our body processes medications.
  • Not all older adults have routine visits with their health care providers and therefore miss the opportunity to have their medications reviewed regularly. Prescriptions may continue to be refilled without the benefit of consultations with their provider.
  • Caregivers and health care providers may misinterpret the signs and symptoms of medication poisoning.