MUST - A National Education Campaign for Older Adults and Caregivers
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Facts: Older Adults and Medicine Use

Quick Facts: Older Adults and Medicine Use

  • Older adults comprise 13 percent of the population, but account for 34 percent of all prescription medicine use and 30 percent of all over-the-counter (OTC) drug use.
  • Most older adults — 4 out of 5 — live with one or more chronic conditions.
  • Many take multiple medicines at the same time. A recent survey of 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries found that 2 out of 5 patients reported taking five or more prescription medicines.
  • Older adults are at increased risk of serious adverse drug events, including falls, depression, confusion, hallucinations and malnutrition, which are an important cause of illness, hospitalization and death among these patients.
  • Drug-related complications have been attributed to the use of multiple medicines and associated drug interactions, age-related changes, human error and poor medical management (e.g., incorrect medicines prescribed, inappropriate doses, lack of communication and monitoring).
  • Almost 40% of seniors are unable to read prescription label, and 67% are unable to understand information given to them.
For references or additional background information, download NCPIE's Fact Sheet "Medicine Use and Older Adults" (see below)
Feature Article
Older Adults — Who Are Especially Susceptible to Medicine Use Related Problems — MUST Take Time Out to Talk About Their Medications

Fact Sheet
Medicine Use and Older Adults