If you’ve been taking medication for a chronic condition, you might find that once you pass age 65, it doesn’t work the same way it did when you first started it. You might also find that you suddenly develop side effects from a medication that never gave you problems before.
Why would this happen? The answer is that normal age-related changes in your body can cause medications to be absorbed, distributed, and removed from the body differently.
The following 5 aging-related changes can change the way your medications work:
1. Your Kidney Function Decreases
Kidney function begins to decline at around age 40, and that decline continues at the rate of approximately 1% each year. As a result, medication you take stays in your body longer, which can lead to an increase in side effects.
2. Your Liver Function Decreases
Similarly, your liver, which metabolizes medications, also decreases in efficiency as you age. As a result, medication remains in the liver longer, which increases the risk of side effects, as well as the risk of liver damage.
3. Your Digestive System Slows Down
This slowdown means it takes longer for medicines to be absorbed into your system. Moreover, your stomach produces less digestive acid as you get older, meaning that it takes longer for some drugs to become usable by the body. As a result, your medications may become may be slower to take effect, or they may become less effective.
4. Your Proportion of Body Fat Increases
As people age, the proportion of muscle in their body shifts in favor of fat. Although your weight might stay the same, the percentage of it that is fat becomes greater than it was when you were younger. As a result, medicines that are fat-soluble, meaning that they dissolve in fat, may be absorbed by the extra fat cells, and therefore remain in your body longer.
5. Your Body Becomes Less Hydrated
Your body’s cells lose water as you age. This means they are less able to dissolve water-soluble medications. As a result, a medication may take longer to be eliminated, increasing its effect.
The result of all these changes is that the risks associated with medications become higher as you age.
The best way to monitor the changes is to speak with your doctor about any changes you notice.
You may also want to schedule a follow-up visit a few weeks after starting a new medication, so that the doctor can catch any problem early.
At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, our caregivers are trained to keep their eye on the medications our residents take, and to monitor any changes in effects or side effects. We take a restorative approach to senior health, maximizing function and mobility in a positive and upbeat atmosphere.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.