Medications are taken as a means to treat ailments, but as we age, it can become increasingly difficult for medications to work as intended.
Medication is absorbed into the body and distributed, metabolized, then removed from the body through urine. Aging can affect how medications are absorbed, metabolized, and released. Here are some common factors that affect the success of medications:
- Increase in body fat percentage: Medications dissolve in fat. If you have more fat, then medications can remain in the body for a longer period.
- Decrease in body fluid: Cells in the body decrease their water storage as a normal part of aging, so water-soluble medications may have a harder time breaking down and being used by the body. This can increase the concentration of certain medications, causing them to be stronger.
- Decrease in digestive function: Our digestion can become slower as the years go on, which determines how quickly or slowly a medication is broken down.
- Decrease in liver function: The liver plays a key role in metabolizing medications. Fewer enzymes are produced, which are required to break down medications. This can lead medications to build up in the liver, which increases the risk of the liver becoming sick.
- Decrease in kidney function: The kidneys are responsible for eliminating waste through urine, but as the kidneys age, their ability to release medications diminishes.
- Decrease in memory: As memory fades, a person can become forgetful and not remember to take their medications. This can worsen chronic conditions as they won’t be properly treated.
- Decrease in vision and hearing: Changes in vision can reduce a person’s ability to properly read medication labels and declines in hearing can make it challenging for patients to hear and understand how to take medications.
- Decrease in dexterity: Having arthritis and other joint and muscle conditions can make it challenging to open medication containers or handle pills
As you can see, with age, the effectiveness of medications can be greatly reduced. It’s important that you make appropriate adjustments for medications to remain successful. Work with your doctor or social worker to ensure you’re taking medications properly.
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