Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs are over-prescribed medication among the elderly, according to the results of a recent study.
The study, conducted by the American Geriatrics Society, found that 12% of 80-year-old women used benzodiazepines. The group discovered this by examining United States pharmacy records from 2008.
Dangerous Side Effects
Benzodiazepines are not recommended for use in the elderly because of potentially deadly side effects including:
- Impaired thinking
- Trouble moving
- Withdrawal symptoms
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The study found that 6% of men and 11% of women between 65 and 80 used the over-prescribed medication, based on data collected from about 60% of U.S. pharmacy records. Almost 33% of those in the study used the drugs long-term. The drugs are only supposed to be prescribed for short-term use. Otherwise the drugs have been known to be addictive.
One suggestion to limit over-prescribed medications is to require that the drug be prescribed only to those undergoing psychiatric care. The study found most prescriptions were written by primary care physicians to treat sleeping disorders and anxiety problems. Doctors said natural remedies, such as increasing exercise or learning better coping techniques, can help the elderly better than an over-prescribed medication. For some doctors, prescribing a pill for patients is easier than suggesting that they eliminate caffeine in the afternoon or suggesting they enroll in a yoga class.