I attend many doctor appointments with clients, that’s a part of my services as a health advocate, and I’m often concerned about the number of medications my older clients are taking. Many times they are taking medications that should be avoided in older adults.  

The American Geriatric Society recently updated The AGS Beers Criteria® for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults. This reference tool is used by clinicians, researchers, and educators to improve medication selection in adults 65 and older.

The medications on this list have the potential to cause more risks than benefits to aging patients and should be used with caution or avoided in most treatment settings. However, this does not include hospice and palliative care settings.

The AGS Beers Criteria® also looks at medications that should be avoided based on certain health conditions, can be harmful when paired with other treatments, or need to be adjusted or avoided due to known reduced kidney function.

Examples of medications to avoid in the 65 plus age group include:

  • Benadryl or diphenhydramine: This common allergy medication can cause confusion, dry mouth, or constipation.
  • Benzodiazepines: Medications such as Ativan (lorazepam) or Xanax (alprazolam) can increase the risk for cognitive impairment, falls, fractures, or vehicular accidents.
  • Long Acting Diabetes Medications: Medications such as Amaryl (glimepiride) or DiaBeta (glyburide) can lead to prolonged periods of low blood sugar.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Medications such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) carry an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding when used on a chronic basis.

Approximately 100 medications are listed as potentially inappropriate and should be either avoided or used with caution by older adults. It is important for older adults to be aware of the medications they take and have a discussion with their healthcare provider on the side-effects and safety of use of all their medications.

Also, take the time to ask your provider if any of the medications you take are listed on the AGS Beer Criteria® to see if the medication is still a responsible choice for your treatment plan.

Severino Health Advisors provides comprehensive assessments of all new clients. That assessment includes a review of current medications and potentially inappropriate medication use. Call for a free 15-minute phone consultation.