“It should be no surprise that older adults are the largest users of prescription medication. After all, older adults are far more likely to have chronic health conditions than are younger people. It follows, then, that the misuse or abuse, of prescription and over-the-counter medications is a significant problem among older adults.
“The medications they misuse include painkillers, especially opiates; sleep aids and anti-anxiety agents, especially benzodiazepines, and various psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.
“For the most part, older adults are not using these drugs to get high. They are using them in the hopes of quelling pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, or depression. And they may also be given them to reduce dangerous, disruptive, or annoying behavior, especially among those older adults who have severe mental disorders, including dementia (often called, accurately or not, Alzheimer’s disease).
“Overuse of medications that may be useful in the right dose for certain specific conditions creates a variety of serious problems including:”