DEAR ABBY: Back in 1991, you ran an important letter suggesting that senior citizens "brown-bag" all their medications and have them reviewed by their physician or pharmacist. Please run it again. It is more important today then ever amidst all the confusion concerning medications. I've enclosed a copy as it appeared in the Syracuse Post-Standard in New York. -- CONCERNED LONGTIME READER
DEAR LONGTIME READER: I agree. It deserves to be repeated:
DEAR ABBY: With the increasing concern about the problems of the aging -- confusion, loss of memory, a tendency to fall, incontinence, etc. -- geriatric experts are finding substantial evidence that the elderly take so many prescription drugs that their bodies are becoming vulnerable to the side effects.
Peter Lamy, assistant dean of geriatrics at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, says that drug-induced illness is sometimes written off and attributed to the "aging process," which not only reduces the quality of lives, but can lead to senior citizens being prematurely sent to nursing homes.
According to Dr. Jerry Avon, professor of social medicine at Harvard Medical School: "The efficiency of the kidney and liver can decline with age, hampering their ability to excrete drugs, which in turn can lead to a drug buildup in the body." He also said that a drug dosage that was safe at age 50 can be dangerous at age 70. Many organs of the body, from the heart to the bladder to the brain, can undergo a change in their sensitivity to medication.
Abby, please suggest that older persons, or their caregivers, "brown-bag" all of their prescription and over-the-counter medications, and take them to their physician or pharmacist for analysis of their cumulative effect.
You would be doing your readers a great service. -- MILLIE HAWTHORN, HARRISBURG, PA.
DEAR MS. HAWTHORN: Thank you for some valuable suggestions that could improve the quality of life -- and possibly extend it. Dr. Robert N. Butler, renowned gerontologist and chairman of the department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, has suggested that older persons fill all of their prescriptions at one pharmacy, so there will be a complete record of their medications.