Why You Should Talk to Seniors About Drug Interactions

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Many seniors take multiple medications but few know the risks of mixing drugs.
Many seniors take multiple medications but few know the risks of mixing drugs.

Healthday News — Older adults report feeling confident that they know how to avoid drug interactions despite only 35% having spoken to someone about it in the past year, according to findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

The poll results are based on answers from 1690 adults aged 50 to 80 years taking 1 or more prescription drugs. They were asked about their experiences and beliefs relating to prescription medications and drug interactions.

According to the report, 63% of older adults reported taking two or more prescription medications and 16% reported taking six or more. Twenty-one percent of older adults reported using more than 1 pharmacy to fill these prescriptions in the past 2 years. In terms of who is responsible for talking to patients about possible drug interactions, 11, 26, and 63% felt that the pharmacist, doctor, and both doctor and pharmacist are responsible, respectively. Sixty-nine percent of patients see multiple doctors and 21% use multiple pharmacies, complicating the discussion of possible drug interactions. Ninety percent of older adults were confident they knew how to avoid drug interactions. However, only 35% had talked to someone about drug interactions in the past year.

"At the very least, a drug interaction could keep their medicine from absorbing properly," Preeti Malani, MD, director of the poll, said in a statement. "It's important for anyone who takes medications to talk with a health care professional about these possibilities."


Malani P, Clark S, Solway E, Singer D, Kirch M. December 2017 Report: Drug Interactions - How to Avoid Them. National Poll on Healthy Aging. University of Michigan. November 29, 2017. Accessible at: https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/report/december-2017-report-drug-interactions-how-avoid-them

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