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Dangerous Medications for the Elderly

Caryn Jack5 years ago

The American Geriatrics Society recently updated its list of potentially dangerous medications for the elderly. New additions include aspirin, ibuprofen, and 51 other common drugs. 

2012 Beers Criteria Medication List

The list, known as the Beers Criteria is used to guide doctors to prevent adverse drug events in the elderly.  In many cases, older adults are taking multiple medications and adjusting to age-related physiological changes, making them prone to adverse drug events. The Beers Criteria is divided into three categories. 

  1. Medications with a High Risk of Adverse Events
  2. Medications that Could Worsen Diseases, Disorders, Risk Factors
  3. Medications Which Carry More Risks than Benefits

Medications with a High Risk of Adverse Events

The first lists medications that may be ineffective or pose a high risk of adverse drug events in the elderly.  Medications on this list include, but are not limited to:

  • Sliding scale insulin
  • Growth hormones
  • Estrogens
  • Skeletal muscle relaxants
  • NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen)

Medications that Could Worsen Diseases, Disorders, or Risk Factors

The second category includes medications that could worsen certain diseases or disorders for older adults. Medications on this list include, but are not limited to:

  • Antipsychotics (could increase stroke risk in dementia patients)
  • Sedative hypnotics (could worsen delirium)
  • Oral decongestants (could worsen insomnia)
  • Antipsychotics (could worsen Parkinson’s disease)
  • Aspirin (could worsen ulcers)

Medications Which Carry More Risks than Benefits

The final category lists medications that should be prescribed with caution for the elderly.  These medications include, but are not limited to:

  • Aspirin for prevention of cardiac events
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Antipsychotics
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