Do you have a parent who has suddenly become zombie like? Have they recently seen their doctor?
According to U.S. government figures, physicians are increasingly prescribing two classes of dangerous and addictive drugs to the elderly – opiates for pain and benzodiazepines – psychiatric medications such as Xanax and Valium often used for anxiety.
According to one report, 55 million opioid prescriptions were written in 2012 for patients 65 years of age and older – a 20% increase in just the last five years. The number of prescriptions for drugs like Xanax has risen 12% in the same time period.
What’s the result?
- Elderly who become mentally debilitated at a time when their cognitive functions are already declining.
- Elderly who are increasingly reporting to addiction centers for help with prescription drug dependency – a 46% jump in the last seven years.
- Emergency room visits by those over 65 for drug misuse that have risen by 50% since 2007.
- Overdose deaths among the elderly that have more than tripled since 1999.
No segment of the population is prescribed more dangerous drugs than the elderly in America and none is more vulnerable to their effects.
Why is this happening?
There are many reasons. One of them is financial pressure. Changes in compensation for care can make prescribing drugs a more profitable option for physicians than pursuing other healthier treatment choices such as changes in diet and lifestyle. Another reason – the insidious influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Much of the continuing education physicians receive is provided by big pharma interests – whose interests in turn are served by the sale of more drugs.
What can be done about it?
- First and foremost, educate yourself about your options and the dangers of over-medication. Every conventional drug – both OTC and prescription – has side effects. Learn about them.
- If you are helping a parent with their daily lives, ask about doctor visits and any prescriptions the physician has recommended.
- Learn about healthy alternatives to prescription drugs. There are many resources on healthy diets, exercise, stress reduction and more available on the internet.
If you or a loved one is ever the victim of an improperly prescribed drug therapy, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.
RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our nearly 60 years serving the people of Connecticut.
We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to medical malpractice cases. Please contact us if we can help you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind. And – there is no fee or other costs unless we are successful on your behalf.