There are many reasons why a medication might be considered an unsafe medicine for a particular patient. In addition to concerns about drug allergies, some medications are contraindicated for certain conditions. This means if you have a specific ailment taking that drug may cause additional problems, so it is advised that that drug not be used in treatment. For example, sleeping pills like Ambien or Lunesta may not be safe for insomniac patients who have ever been treated for depression as they can cause a relapse.
According to MSN Health, older patients are particularly vulnerable to many medications as the body processes drugs differently when it is older. Aging also increases the risk of dementia, dizziness and falling, heart problems, and high blood pressure, making it more dangerous for older people to take medications that may cause side effects related to these problems. For example, Celebrex and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause an increased risk of heart attack or stroke and elderly patients are at an even greater risk for these problems.
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Healthcare experts have recently begun to question the widespread use of anti-psychotic medications in nursing homes. Investigations have found that these drugs are often used to keep patients calm and manageable, but anti-psychotic drugs are contraindicated for many nursing home patients. Dementia patients are more likely to suffer a fatal stroke when taking these medicines. Anti-psychotics are also shown to impair motor functions, increase risk of fainting and falls, and may worsen symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Because of the danger they pose, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have initiated a program to reduce their abuse in nursing homes.
It is important that you are honest with your medical history so you are not prescribed a dangerous medicine by a doctor. Additionally, a research team has been working since the early 90s to compile criteria for medications that should not be used with patients who are over 65. The list of Inappropriate Medications for the Elderly is available here. A recent survey indicated more than 16 percent of elderly patients was taking two or more drugs on this list, so it may be helpful to be proactive and ask your doctor to compare the medications you are taking with those on the list.