Aging baby boomers like myself now realize that the endless parties, killer workouts and disease free times are coming to an end. Ages ago we could work all day, party all night and be ready for a repeat the next day. Now the idea of staying out past 10 pm seems unpleasant and a good workout might be a short jaunt around the block.
Unfortunately for us and for the rest of humanity, strength and endurance are not the only waning powers: Our organs including liver, kidneys and heart are just not the fine tuned motors they used to be. And we are taking medications, which are often metabolized or broken down by these very same tired, old organs.
What does this mean? The same dose of that blood pressure medication you’ve been taking might need to reduced or you might have to switch to another medication. If the particular drug is broken down by the kidneys or liver and you’re say over 80, odds are that you will need a lower dose than your younger family members.
To make matters worse, many of these medications have side effects, which in younger years were more easily tolerated. For example, fatigue and dizziness, while unpleasant, might be tolerated at age 30. However, at age 70 these side effects will make it much more likely that you fall and hurt yourself.
Sometimes , drugs which you have taken might need to be stopped altogether. For example, Coumadin, a blood thinner might be prescribed for an irregular heart beat such as atrial fibrillation. If you suffer from frequent falls (not uncommon in older individuals), the risk of serious head injury might outweigh the risk of a stroke. Your doctor would then discuss this with you and you might want to stop this drug.
Chronic pain medications are a problem in all age groups, but can be especially dangerous in the elderly. Statin drugs such as Lipitor may no longer need to be taken.
Make sure that your primary doctor knows all the medications you are taking, including those prescribed by specialists. More medications are not better-in fact, you should take as few medications as possible (of course only in consultation with your doctor).
Bottom line is that we baby boomers, like countless generations before us and countless to come, must tread carefully as we age, especially with medications.