Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A prescription for old age

By Lynne McTaggart
The over-60s make up just 8 per cent of the population, but they are prescribed more than one-third of all medicines dispensed by doctors. In fact, the average 60-plus person is prescribed at least six drugs, all of which are interacting to unknown effect.

As WDDTY has discovered, the major drugs routinely dispensed as just-in-case medicine for the over-60s—from cholesterol-lowering drugs to aspirin—cause all of the conditions that we’ve come to associate with old age: physical instability; forgetfulness; incontinence; and dementia. At least five major classes of drugs routinely prescribed to seniors cause falls, while many types of drugs cause incontinence. And virtually any drug—even those sold over the counter—is capable of bringing about some sort of cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’, with all the hallmarks of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

I saw this close to home with our neighbour ‘Sam’, who handled all the gardening and physical labour around his daughter’s house well into his 80s. One of his party tricks was to race around the garden with his small grandson in a large wheelbarrow. When he became a bit forgetful, his doctor prescribed powerful antipsychotics. In short order, he completely lost his memory, became paranoid and difficult, landed in a nursing home, refused his food and, finally, just gave up and died.

Our neighbour’s situation begs the question of which came first: the problem, or the problem caused by the ‘solution’? If seniors given drugs present with symptoms, doctors are quick to reach for the prescription pad to hand out yet more drugs to handle what are simply side-effects from a drug that the senior probably didn’t need in the first place.

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