Medical Reading

One In Four Disabled Seniors Use Risky Or Ineffective Medicines, USA

October 27, 2017

Roughly a quarter of Americans with disabilities age 65 and older reported using at least one prescription drug deemed inappropriate for persons his or her age, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Only about half as many (13 percent) of elderly people without disabilities used inappropriate drugs, according to the analysis of 2004 data.

Thirty-three medications are regarded as inappropriate for people 65 and older. These medicines - including drugs such as Xanax, Demerol, Darvon and Procardia - should be avoided either because they are ineffective, pose a high risk of side effects, or may be avoided in favor of a safer alternative.

AHRQ'S analysis of medication use among older people also found:

- Use of these drugs was more common among people with complex disabilities (27 percent) than those with basic disabilities (23 percent). Complex disabilities limit a person's ability to work or socialize while basic disabilities limit a person's ability to walk, bathe or carry out other everyday activities.

- Older people with disabilities, regardless of their race or ethnicity, were at least twice as likely as older people without disabilities to have used an inappropriate prescription drug.

- Seniors with disabilities who never finished or stopped at high school were more likely to use potentially inappropriate drugs than those who went on to college.

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on data from the 2007 National Healthcare Disparities Report , which examines shows disparities in Americans' access to and quality of health care by race, ethnicity, income, and education.