Drug side effects add up over time. And the more prescriptions you’re taking, the higher your risk rises for those disturbing drug reactions and interactions to occur.
If you’re feeling rotten due to your own meds, you’re not alone. The average senior in the US takes somewhere between 9 and 13 prescription drugs a year. Many folks take more than that.
There’s even a name for it… polypharmacy. So it’s no real surprise that drug side effects are a significant issue for older Americans.
Some of those serious side effects include…
- memory loss and other cognitive struggles
- falls, injuries from falls, and death from falls
- fatigue and lethargy
- insomnia and other sleep struggles
- headaches and other forms of pain
- personality changes
But most folks just learn to live with them. They figure they have to take the meds, so they tell themselves the good outweighs the bad.
But a new study turns that notion on its head. According to researchers, chances are you CAN ditch some of your prescriptions and the side effects that go with them. And when you do, you could find that you feel better than you have in ages.
HALF were taking an unneeded drug
There’s a right and wrong way to reduce the number of prescriptions you’re taking.
You can’t just go into your medicine cabinet and toss out the drugs you don’t like. And you certainly shouldn’t decide you’re not swallowing any pills today.
The first step is to talk to your doctors to get them on board. They can then work with you to wean you off meds while monitoring your reactions.
But the new study shows why you should have that conversation sooner rather than later. Because medication side effects can make you miserable, ruining your quality of life.
The new analysis looked at more than 400 seniors who took at least 15 medications. And if you’re thinking that’s a LOT of pills, you’re absolutely right.
Even worse, it turns out many of those drugs weren’t even necessary. About half of the participants were able to quit some prescriptions. And, incredibly, many were able to stop FOUR or MORE meds.
Some folks did have mild reactions to quitting certain meds, which isn’t unexpected. And in some cases, they had to go back on a drug they stopped.
But many of the volunteers were able to quit some meds for good. And their disturbing side effects right along with them.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve had confirmation that seniors are being overmedicated. Past studies have found that many folks on far fewer than 15 meds are taking prescription drugs they don’t need to be.
Reduce your dependence on prescription meds
The key to cutting back on prescriptions (and their side effects) is to spot unnecessary meds that have slipped into the mix over the years.
Some are drugs never intended to be permanent, but some glitch keeps getting them refilled. The big chain pharmacies love those types of prescriptions because they’re money in the bank. They renew them automatically and then robocall you to say they’re ready to be picked up.
Others are drugs intended to replace certain meds, yet patients continue to take the originals. Blood pressure meds are notorious for causing this kind of confusion. Because sometimes you ARE supposed to stay on your original BP drug when you start your new one. But in other cases, the new drug replaces the old one.
Some are meds that people likely don’t need past a certain age, like statins, for example. I’m not a fan of them for folks at ANY age considering their side effects. But even folks who support the use of statins admit they don’t do much good after 75 for most healthy seniors.
And those are just some of the situations that can lead to unnecessary prescriptions. But when you add lifestyle changes and natural therapies into the mix, even more meds may be able to be dropped.
Blood pressure pills, sleep aids, blood sugar drugs, mood meds, painkillers, and more may find their way onto the unneeded list.
QUIT unnecessary perscriptions to reduce side effects
So here’s what you do:
Call your doctor (ideally a physician who practices naturopathic or integrative medicine) and arrange an appointment just to go over your medications. Explain that your goal is to get rid of any prescriptions you don’t need to reduce your risk of side effects.
Some pharmacists and specialists, such as gerontologists, also offer this service. It’s often called a “brown bag checkup” because you bring all your pills to the appointment in a brown bag. You then go over each of the prescriptions, one at a time, to figure out what you still need and what you can drop.
If you’re on multiple meds… especially five or more… there’s a solid chance there’s something that can be eliminated or replaced.
For seniors, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet of some meds you almost certainly don’t need. You’ll find that here in my earlier free report.
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