A new study shows that 25% of the elderly who are in home care have reactions to prescribed drugs. This is ONE in FOUR elderly that have REPORTED drug reactions!!

The elderly, the report states, are now taking 6 or more different prescribed drugs on a daily basis!

In contrast to the growing media trend of reporting reactions due to ERRORS in drug prescribing, these are "properly" prescribed medications. Yet 25% of our most vulnerable population is having reactions to the drugs that are being properly prescribed for their medical conditions. Having been an Emergency Room nurse for many years, it is my job to find out what medications people are taking and to write it down for their medical chart. I can attest to the fact that many of our elderly are taking even MORE drugs than that- sometimes upwards of 12 or 15 drugs per day!

"Medication side effects are the #4 leading cause of death in the U.S. annually" (JAMA 1998)

This would seem to be an impossible amount of prescription medications for a population who often has memory issues and difficulty even opening the bottles. My experiences in the emergency department leads me to believe that these adverse effects are SERIOUS issues. We're not talking simply a case of nausea here. A case of nausea, in an elderly person, often leads to days of vomiting and a trip to the emergency room for dehydration and a urinary tract infection.

A case of constipation can lead to abdominal surgery from a bowel perforation or a blocked intestine. Dizziness or diarrhea can lead to a fall, which can lead to a broken hip from which they will never recover. If the alternative health community reported that 25% of anyone had a reaction to anything that they did- be it giving supplements, doing acupuncture or chiropractic treatments- the FDA would investigate and put them out of business immediately.

In fact in the alternative community, a few people getting sick from ONE poorly prepared batch of supplements from ONE specific company is enough to take away access to that supplement forever- as was the case with the amino acid supplement Tryptophan.

But for the AMA, drug reactions in 25% of a population is just business as usual.

Instead of this study being a call to action to the medical industry to change their prescribing practices in the elderly- as usual, it becomes a reason to add more regulations to home care provider agencies- which doesn't SOLVE the problem at all and only adds more paperwork and more cost to health care. While seniors definitely need medical care, there are MUCH better natural alternatives than prescription drugs in MOST cases:

1) Ensuring proper Vitamin D levels- a practice that is NOT done by the vast majority of physicians in the US- has been shown to not only prevent falls in the elderly, but also to help decrease blood pressure, normalize blood sugars, prevent heart disease and relieve depression. And it can be given in ONE very large dose twice yearly in the doctor's office (as it's done in other countries simply to PREVENT deficiency)

2) There are hundreds of studies on the use of nuts and fatty acids present naturally in foods to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

3) Fiber can not only help with high cholesterol levels and blood pressure, but prevent constipation AND diarrhea

4) Regular exercise promotes heart health, blood pressure reduction, increased bone density, depression reduction and prevents constipation.

Just these 4 simple things would probably eliminate the need for 4 to 5 different drugs that seniors take for: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression and constipation.

It is NOT normal to be taking drugs as we get older- yet we are surprised to hear about a senior who is NOT taking medications. Since most most chronic medical problems are preventable with lifestyle changes, our society should be shocked to hear when someone DOES have to take a prescription medication!!

Author's Bio: 

Kerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine. She uses a scientifically based 'What Works Best' approach in order to help people actually OVERCOME chronic health problems that have not been helped by any other means.

She has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, but works primarily by telephone consultation so that she can help you wherever you happen to live in the US. She can be reached through her website at


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