Americans aged 75-85 are some of the country’s biggest drug addicts. That’s right, 68% of surveyed adults who take prescription medications were found to also take over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. The problem with this practice is that many drugs and supplements have adverse reactions with each other.
Here go some more elderly drug-abuse facts:
- more than half of U.S. adults aged 57 to 85 are using five or more prescription or non-prescription drugs
- one in 25 are taking them in combinations that could cause adverse drug reactions
- adults over 65 make up more than 175,000 emergency department visits a year for adverse drug reactions
- commonly prescribed drugs accounted for a third of these visits
Wow! Does anybody else find this scary? The reason for this inordinate drugging of our elderly citizens is simple: We live in a drug-worshiping culture. Our current medical paradigm is all about the drugs, man. Foolish, very foolish. Don’t get me wrong, drugs are useful. I’ve said exactly that, here, and in my book. But why more than 50% of all people over 57 (that’s too young, in my opinion) need to be on 5+ drugs is dumbfounding. Frankly, it blows my mind.
But, I get it; many others don’t. You see, drugs are the main weapon in the arsenal of the current health care authority–the medicos. Drugs fit into the current “health” paradigm, which the medical education is based specifically around. Neither situation alone–the use of drugs to treat, or medical domination of the health care system–is necessarily a problem. It’s the two together that cause a dangerous situation.
My answer to the problem:
- Medicine stay the dominant force in health care, but alter their paradigm by adding health and wellness to a far greater degree than what they are doing now.
- Recognize other health disciplines as allies in this quest to improve health care.
- Take responsibility in determining all medications a patient is on and managing the patient accordingly.
- Recognize that conservative, non-drug treatment is always, ALWAYS, superior to medicating when that option exists.
- Understand when that option exists.
Until these simple steps are adopted by the medical industry, expect more of the same: Too many elderly people (and people, in general) addicted to prescription meds, and way too many people getting sick or dying from adverse drug reactions.