Why older people take too many medicines

The overuse of drugs by the elderly is a fact of life. Seniors have become drug addicts, with an average of ten different drugs taken by people over 80. This greatly increases the risk of drug-related accidents. Many doctors denounce the overuse of medication by the elderly. But many also insist on the difficulty of reducing the number of prescriptions. On average, an octogenarian takes ten drugs every day, which is far too many. Specialists in the field say that beyond three or four molecules taken together, their metabolism, i.e. the way they react, is no longer well known. And, above all, if you take more than five drugs a day, the risk of a drug accident increases considerably. A few weeks ago, the consumption of medicines by the elderly had already raised the alarm, the High Authority for Health (HAS), which had launched an information campaign on the consumption of sleeping pills by people over 65. For the HAS, the consumption of sleeping pills has almost become commonplace for many seniors, whereas the use of these drugs (mainly benzodiazepine hypnotics or anxiolytics) should meet a specific need. However, this bulimic consumption of drugs is not inevitable. Specialists point out that in many European countries, and especially in the Scandinavian countries, the consumption of medicines by the elderly is half as high. One third of the over-65s take medication on a regular basis, particularly sleeping pills. They take these drugs for an average of seven months or more. However, to be effective, some drugs should not be taken for more than 30 days. Beyond that, they could lead to dependence on the product, generate balance problems, risk of falls and memory problems. The aim of doctors is to prescribe less but better and above all to try to better inform the elderly about the possible side effects of taking too much of certain drugs, particularly sleeping pills. Doctors should try to rationalise prescriptions for the elderly by prescribing only those that are essential and by re-evaluating the prescription every month.

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