Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
America's Winter Escapes Sweepstakes
Introducing RealPad by AARP
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning Centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Finding Your Way

How to Avoid Dangerous Medication Errors

Drug-related hospital admissions double among older Americans

We take more medicines than ever to maintain or improve our health. But over the last decade, many boomers and seniors have ended up in the hospital because the medications they expected to help them actually hurt them.

Many medical problems now can be treated with medicines that were not available just a few years ago. But taking more medicines can also result in some unexpected reactions, especially for people who take several drugs. Bad reactions to medications are on the rise, according to a new report by my agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Between 1997 and 2008, hospital admissions doubled among Americans ages 45 and older for medication and drug-related conditions. These hospital admissions include the effects of prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as illegal drugs.

This increase has been driven by three types of medication and drug-related conditions:

  1. Drug-induced delirium, which is general confusion and agitation caused by drugs. Common causes are drugs for sleeping, nausea and pain. Older patients are more sensitive to medicines than younger adults.
  2. Poisoning or overdose from codeine and other narcotic medicines. Bad reactions from narcotic pain medicines are especially common in older adults.
  3. Withdrawal from prescribed medicines or illegal drugs. Drug withdrawal occurs when someone suddenly stops taking a drug or takes much less of it after being on it for a long time.


Government agencies are working to prevent hospital admissions that are due to medication use. Together with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, AHRQ oversees a program that identifies medication problems and finds solutions.

You can lower your chance of problems with your medication. First, don't take medicine that is not prescribed for you. Also, remember that it is not safe to drink alcohol when you take medicine for sleeping, pain, anxiety or depression.

As we age, drugs can affect us differently. We may need to change medications or adjust dosages.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at glasses.com.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points