Tag Archives: medication

How the Elderly Can Get a Better Night’s Sleep

How the Elderly Can Get a Better Night’s Sleep

As people get older, a good night’s sleep becomes much harder to achieve. Sleep among the elderly tends to be much choppier and less deep than their younger counterparts meaning they may wake up several times during the night and it takes less for them to wake up. They also spend much less time in dream sleep than younger people. Just because the elderly tend to get less sleep than younger people, it is still equally important for restorative health benefits. There are several reasons why the elderly get less sleep and several ways for them to the sleep that they need.

Bad sleep habits

One of the most common of sleep problems among older people is that they choose or are often forced to have poor sleeping habits. It is important for all people to maintain a regular sleep pattern and when there is no regular sleep pattern it is much more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Family restraints, work are two of the possible options that may cause the elderly to get off a regular sleeping pattern. The elderly are also more likely to take naps during the day which often throws off a regular sleep pattern. Often alcohol, a depressant, can actually keep you awake when you want to go to bed throwing off your sleeping pattern, especially in the elderly. Retirement is also something that takes some getting used to for elderly individuals. Suddenly, the elderly have a lot of time on their hands which can create some odd sleep patterns.

How the Elderly Can Get a Better Night’s Sleep

There are several solutions to alleviate poor sleep habits. Finding a way to get your work done during the day and communicating with family about your sleeping trouble is a good start to at least set up a more normal sleep pattern. If you are going to take a nap during the day to attempt to recover some lost sleep, try do so well before you attempt to go to bed for the night. Avoiding alcohol before you go to bed is also a wise decision and will help with sleep patterns. Physical activity during the day is also a good, healthy option to burn some unused energy so that your muscles and body will crave the restorative effects of sleep. Even though, the elderly have more time on their hands, it is still important to keep a regular sleep schedule so they have their normal amount of energy.


The elderly are more likely to take medications than younger people and often these substances will alter sleep patterns. In some cases, medication can create wakefulness at night. Consulting with your doctor when taking medications is wise to see how they will affect your sleep. If a medication alters your sleep pattern it is wise to tell your doctor and you may be able to move to a different medication. Doctors can also presrive medications to help alleviate sleep issues.

Psychological issues

Being an elderly individual also means that you have experienced a lot of in your life both positive and negative. Traumatic events such as death often messes with sleep as an individual will focus so much on these events that their mind cannot go to sleep. Stress from family or work can also cause the loss of sleep. Communication with individuals close to you such as family and friends is a good way to alleviate some of the burden that you are carrying and often works to achieve a better sleep pattern. There are plenty of financial professionals that handle financial problems of the elderly and speaking with them and setting up a plan can also alleviate the stress the elderly.

Disruptions of normal sleeping behavior are common among the elderly due to the changing of their bodies as well as outside influences. Luckily, by keeping a regular sleep schedule and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the elderly can help themselves get the good night’s sleep they need.

Not too old for Clinical Trials?

It is not news to anyone that we are all living longer. Life expectancy in the United States increased by 30 years during the 20th Century and 25 of those years were attributed to advances in medicines and the treatment of disease in older people. Life is now the survival of those who live in the better conditions, rather than those who are born fitter. But challenges remain, particularly in the fight against Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Differences between Young and Old

There are many differences between the bodies of an older person and a younger person, besides the obvious outward appearance. Older people often have more than one health condition at a time, making it difficult to successfully deal with those conditions. Nothing can be treated in isolation. The older body absorbs medication differently to the younger body and it is also weaker, making it more vulnerable to the potential side effects of medication.

A Discipline in Itself

So, there is no surprise that the study of disease in the elderly has its own discipline, called Gerontology. Just as the United States has seen an increase in life expectancy, so has Europe. The ageing population is expected to increase from 84 million to 141 million by 2050. Rather than waiting for a problem to arrive on the doorstep, the European Union has established an agency dedicated to the advancement of medical care for the older generation, implementing strategies that span the creation of new medicines and treatment protocols. The goal is greater understanding of how to successfully fight conditions that affect the elderly and ultimately better care.

What Part Can the Elderly Play?

This is not a problem that can be solved in isolation. Clinical testing at the pre-licensing stage needs to include more elderly volunteers.

How Clinical Trials Work

For those interested in participating, there are two types of medical trial open to human volunteers: trials with healthy volunteers that test the effects of a drug on an organ that it is not intended to treat and trials that test medications for specific conditions.

A good example of the first trial would be a medicine that is intended to treat the liver, but the sponsor wants to see if there is any effect on the heart but not necessarily a negative effect, or what might be classed as a side effect. An example of the second would be a trial that tests a new Alzheimer’s medication and requires volunteers who have the condition.

Another important distinction is that trials requiring healthy volunteers pay an honorarium, whereas condition specific trials don’t because it is perceived that the volunteer can derive benefits from exposure to the new drug. Companies like GSK deliver both types of trial and their honorariums for trials in the UK begin at £50 and can be up to £2000 depending on the trial and how many times you volunteer.

Medical testing for healthy volunteers is open to people up to the age of 80. It is a fascinating process to see science at work and to participate in the development of drugs that could help someone you will never meet.

Guest post contributed by Sally Shaws, who writes about volunteering for paid clinical trials. You can visit GlaxoSmithKline for more information on taking part in these trials or to register as a volunteer.

What You Should Know About Your Elderly Parent’s Medications

Once your elderly mom or dad gets a drug prescription from the doctor because of his or her current condition, here are the things you need to know and ask as part of your parent’s caregiving team.

Name and dosage of the drug

Know the drug’s name and dosage and understand why the doctor prescribed it for your parent. Ask if it needs to be bought with a prescription or if it can be bought immediately over the counter. For more clarity, you can ask the doctor to write out the medication and dose, as well as what condition the medication is treating. You can do research of your own – the internet offers a lot of information you can use to your advantage.

Common side effects

Some drugs induce drowsiness, hunger, or fatigue. Will your parent experience any side effects when he or she takes this drug? Since side effects are normal, you don’t need to worry. But there are also drug effects that are dangerous, known as adverse effects. Are there signs and symptoms you should look out for? List the common side effects brought about by the drug to know if your parent’s body reaction is normal or not.

How to take it

Does your parent need to drink a glass of water with it? A glass of juice? Or should the tablet stay under the tongue until it melts? Or should he dissolve it in water? There are many different ways of taking in medicine to ensure proper absorption. Make sure you listen to the doctor’s instructions and read the directions carefully. If you find inconsistencies, clarify it with your parent’s doctor.

When to take it, how often and for how long

Ask the doctor when your parent should take the drug, how often and for how long. There are medications that should be taken four times a day, or after every meal, between meals, or when needed. Also know how long it should be taken and what to do if your parent misses a dose.

Possible drug interactions

It is imperative to talk to the doctor about your mom or dad’s current medications (herbal remedies, supplements, eye drops included) because they might not work well with the new drug. Harmful drug interactions may happen if two medications go against each other.  It is also best to describe to the doctor your parent’s usual allergic reactions.

Special instructions

Are there any food and drinks to avoid when taking the medicine? Are there any activities that should be prevented hours before or after the dose? Is there a possibility of addiction?


Other important reminders:

1. If you think the medicine doesn’t work, check with the doctor first before deciding to stop the drug.

2. If your parent is showing signs of difficulty in breathing, inform your doctor immediately.

3. Go to one pharmacist. This way, the pharmacist will know what medications may be harmful when taken side by side.

4. For less confusion, use a pill organizer at home.

5. Make a medication list and always review them with your parent before he or she takes them.

About the author: Melissa Page is a passionate writer from San Diego, California, who works for a medical staffing company and a group of pharmaceutical lawyers. When she’s not writing, she’s out bowling with her friends.



6 Potentially Dangerous Medications for the Elderly

When we get older, our bodies change, and so does the body’s response to medicine. It’s a basic biological fact, however it tends to get overlooked, as old age is constantly deemed as something that is generally all right to be put away, as if part of an entire retirement package.

But the thing is, again operating on a basic viewpoint, old age is similar to the stages of feeble infancy. There are medicines that you should not be using on infants, and this goes as well with the elderly. With the latter however, over the counter medication and prescription medication is easier and is a formed habit that may be harder to break. People also just generally assume that the medicine they took when they were fifty has the same effect on their ills when they are in their, say, early seventies. A seventy year old body does not respond to medicine as a forty year old would.

The dangerous reactions that stem from this kind of ignorance could be easily remedied, however, by awareness. In 1991, a team of experts put together a list of potentially dangerous medications for the elderly, and it is always being updated, and now contains at least 48 risky medication for the seniors. Named after the head doctor of aforementioned medical expert team, the list was named the Beer’s List, after its founder. It is an extensive list of medications, but here are the most common:


Valium (Diazepam)

A sedative used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It contains chemicals that compose fat soluble and ends up becoming stored in body fat, where upon its release into the bloodstream slows and dulls and prolongs this effect. It also increases the chance and risk of falling, confusion, and broken bones.


Libirium (chlordiazepoxide)

It covers the same risks as Valium; it is used as an alternative to Valium at times, and is involved with many inappropriate prescriptions for the elderly. It also chemically urges your body to become dependent on it.


Darvon (Propoxphene)

This is an analgesic often prescribed to older people for their attraction to quick medication fixes. But in fact it does very little in regards to relieving pain, and can affect the heart and the central nervous system to adverse effects.


Elavil (Amitriptyline)

An antidepressant, also causes severe low blood pressure on the elderly, especially after extended periods of time in a single solitary position, be it standing or sitting or walking or doing another regular habit.


Using these sedatives in the long term, can cause one to be victim to falls, broken bones, confusion, and dependence on older patients. Again this plays in with how sedatives, consumed by an elderly for example, will remain quite dangerously sedated for a longer time than when patient had been younger.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

These kinds of drugs aggravate various types of glaucoma, halt the flow of urine in men by enlarged prostate glands, and worsen heart disease. Ironic, in how it was manufactured to be against depressants, but in itself, it ends up depressing its clients that need it most.

Author Bio: Marc works at All Time Medical, an online source of high quality wheelchairs, walkers and rollators. Watch out for more of his guest posts on various health and wellness.