Wednesday, April 20, 2016

It Might Not Be Dementia—How Pharma for Seniors Can Go Seriously Wrong

Dr. Harry Haroutunian discusses the dangers of overmedicating older adults.
By Martha Rosenberg / AlterNet
April 19, 2016

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Forgetfulness. Falls. Adding a new prescription or over-the-counter drug to address problems that are side effects of a previous drug. These are increasingly common problems, says a new book from Hazelden, because people are taking more drugs than ever before and not always aware of their side effects and interactions. This "polypharmacy" can produce everything from falls and accidents to behavior that is quickly termed dementia in the elderly, even when it is clearly from drug effects.

The problem is compounded by doctors not always aware of what other doctors are prescribing a patient and the addictive nature of many popular drugs today.

I recently interviewed Dr. Harry Haroutunian, whose new book, Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults, addresses these issues.

Martha Rosenberg: Your book discusses ageism that can lurk behind medical treatment of the elderly—the belief that a person does not have long to live, cannot live a quality life or even that they should be allowed to have their "comfort" when it comes to drugs like opioids or benzodiazapines.

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