lder adults consume approximately 30 percent of the prescription drugs in use today, and many self-medicate with non-prescription drugs. With so many pills to take daily, sorting through a menagerie of medications can be very confusing for many seniors. With the assistance of physicians in Winthrop's Division of Geriatric Medicine, patients can receive help in coordinating their medications and, in many cases, doctors can work with patients to eliminate certain medications that may not be necessary or that can adversely interact with other drugs.
Gloria Menelao, 80, of Franklin Square, was taking more than one dozen different medications before visiting Winthrop's practice. After experiencing a number of black-outs, Ms. Menelao sought the medical expertise of Maria Carney, MD, Geriatrician at Winthrop.
"On more than one occasion I found myself on the floor and didn't know what happened," stated Ms. Menelao. "When I finally got checked out, my doctor didn't find anything seriously wrong with me, but did significantly decrease the number of prescription drugs I was taking."
Ms. Menelao's physician worked closely with her to assess her health status before eliminating almost half of the pills she was using. Now on only a few prescription medications, Ms. Menelao states that she feels so much better and has not passed out since the adjustment.
Working in conjunction with the Long Island Regional Poison & Drug Information Center at Winthrop, the Division of Geriatrics will also be adding a pharmacist to its staff in order to provide drug information and support to the growing number of patients on multiple medications.
According to Irving Gomolin, MD, Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Winthrop, "Adverse drug reactions are a leading cause of morbidity in the elderly population and lead to an increase of emergency room visits."
The Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center at Winthrop is a resource center for the general public, physicians and hospital emergency rooms. The Center offers guidance for handling any poisoning emergency or drug overdoses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to managing poison emergencies, its staff offers drug and herbal product information.
For additional information about poison prevention and drug interactions, call 516-663-2592, or visit the Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center's website at www. LIRPDIC.org. Additional information is available through Winthrop's Division of Geriatric Medicine at (516) 663-2588 or by calling 1-866-WINTHROP.
To help seniors deal with medications and drug interactions, the Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center at Winthrop offers patients an abundance of information to help prevent accidental poisonings by reducing any risks that may be associated with the use of medications, including:
Lucy Macina, MD, Division of Geriatric Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital explains how certain drugs interact with one another to patient, Jack Egozcue.
1. Take all medicines as directed.
2. Never reduce or increase the daily prescribed amount without first checking with your doctor.
3. Discard old (outdated) medications.
4. Know your medications. Keep a list in your wallet or purse.
5. Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.
6. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any allergies or side effects that you've had with medications.
7. If you forget to take your medication, don't double your dose except on advice of your doctor.
8. Keep a daily record of medications you are taking, especially if you are taking more than one at a time.
9. Understand the directions printed on the container, i.e., dosage, how administered, etc.
10. If child-proof containers are difficult to open, ask your pharmacist for easy-to-open containers. But be aware that easy-to-open containers can be dangerous for small children.