July 13, 2011
Drugs offer many life-saving benefits that keep seniors healthier longer. But ads that promote the many pharmaceuticals on the market can cause confusion for both seniors and their family caregivers. Make sure to confer with doctors about any medications a senior is taking and check out www.SeniorEmergencyKit.com for more resources.
Q. Every magazine my 78-year-old mom reads and many television commercials she watches promote some new drug. How do I help her determine what drugs are for her? What other ways can I make sure she's getting the medications she needs?
Many medications and other health products on the market today have greatly improved life for older adults. But it's easy for consumers of any age to get confused about all that's being offered. You should be comforted to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription information.
Part of FDA's mission to protect the public health is to help ensure that prescription drug information is not false or misleading, said Rachel Behrman, M.D., M.P.H., deputy Director of the Office of Medical Policy within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Behrman told a special committee on aging of the U.S. Senate that helping all Americans make better informed decisions concerning their health care is a top priority of the Agency.
Opinion surveys conducted by the FDA demonstrate that DTC advertising can encourage consumers to seek information about an illness or condition, and more information about a drug from their physician or pharmacist, Behrman said. But recent FDA research also revealed that both patients and physicians believe consumer-directed advertising frequently overstates the benefits of drugs and understates the risks.
The bottom line is that you or your mom should research any medication that she is interested in and talk to her doctor and pharmacist about that medication. If you have access to the Internet, type in the name of the drug on a search engine to find out as much as you can about the medication, what it's designed to do, the side effects and risks involved, and whether it interacts with any of the medications she may be on. Take that information to your mother's next appointment.
If you're not available to go to your mom's appointment with her, consider sending a relative or trusted friend, or hire a companion such as a CAREGiverSM from Home Instead Senior Care®. A trusted companion can help your mom sort out what she's hearing and make an informed decision.
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