Senior citizens at risk of mixing medication with supplements

Senior citizens at risk of mixing medication with supplements
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -  Local doctors say they are seeing more cases of senior citizens mixing medication with supplements, which can in turn put their health at risk.

Anyone can mix these pills together, but the elderly have a greater chance of being negatively affected.

"As they age, their bodies don't work as well as they used to," said Les Covington, professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. "They do not break down drugs and metabolize them the way we do when were younger. Our bodies don't exert the drugs the way they do when we are younger, and some of these over-the counter-supplements can actually accumulate."

Covington says the reason patients do not disclose supplements and vitamins as an over-the-counter pill is because many do not consider them as one.

"We go one step further and we ask them what herbals and supplements they take and usually they will start to disclose supplements to us," Covington said.

The health risks of mixing pills are numerous and all depend on what is being mixed and the individual.

Doctors urge family members to be aware of the type of medication their elderly relative is taking.

A local pharmacist highly recommends families accompany their relatives when going to visit a doctor or pharmacy to sort any confusion out.

"Cross check all medications by bringing them into a pharmacy," South Park Pharmacy's Prince Ogboona said. "We are always available to help you distinguish what you are taking and can point to you what is not suppose to go together."

Ogbonna said many pharmacies can quickly tell patients what type of medication and pills can and cannot be mixed. He also urges families to check in with their local doctors and pharmacies to keep tabs on prescribed medications, especially if the patient lives alone.

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