Premature deaths due to poor lifestyle choices, it’s a problem facing every country across the globe. Now world health leaders have decided to attack the problem head on by setting goals to help individuals make better choices and potentially reduce the number of premature deaths by 25% by 2025. That would save 37 million lives over 15 years.
What’s one of the best things you can do for your health? Although exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating right are all good answers, doctors have added positive thinking to the list. According to new research, medical professionals are starting to agree a high degree of anger, hostility, and cynicism is not good for your health.
Tornadoes, lightening strikes, random acts of violence- all things the average American shouldn’t really fear. Do you know what diseases and conditions are most likely to kill you- heart disease, cancer, lung disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, stroke and unintentional injuries such as those on roads or caused by medication overdoses.
With the costs of healthcare skyrocketing and childhood obesity rates increasing it makes sense medical health experts are looking at ways to shrink both. According to a recent study, nearly 17% of children are currently obese, costing about $19,000 over the lifetime of the child, not to mention the increased risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other disabilities.
USA Today reports there is a growing epidemic among seniors: hundreds of thousands of them are addicted to prescription drugs or misusing them. The trend has become alarming as healthcare professionals continue to prescribe highly addictive prescription drugs at record levels to seniors.
Prescription drugs on the rise
Doctors want to offer solutions, but sometimes for the elderly there’s not much they can do to reduce their pain and discomfort except offer prescription drugs. And offer they do. Reports indicate seniors are taking a record number of prescription drugs which including transdermal patches laced with fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, Xanax, and other anxiety medications.
While prescribing prescription drugs may seem harmless – it’s not. Hospitals are starting to see an increase in visits to the E.R., increased participation in treatment programs for those addicted to prescription drugs and an increase in overdose deaths.
According to Mel Pohl, medical director at the Las Vegas Recovery Center, it is not unusual for doctors to want to make a senior’s life better and the best way they know how to do that is to prescribe medication.
Unfortunately, the more prescription drugs prescribed, the higher tolerance level for the drugs. More and more prescription drugs must be prescribed to achieve the same result, which can lead to serious health consequences for the patient including respiratory failure, dementia and increased cognitive issues.
Over medicating is not likely to stop any time soon
Experts realize the trend of medicate first, treat later lends itself to a growing number of seniors misusing prescription drugs. How bad is the problem? According to data provided by IMS Health, “There were 55 million opioid prescriptions written last year for people 65 and over marked a 20% increase over five years — nearly double the growth rate of the senior population.”
Not only are prescription drugs increasingly over prescribed, they are also misused. According to another survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “In 2012, the average number of seniors misusing or dependent on prescription pain relievers in the past year grew to an estimated 336,000, up from 132,000 a decade earlier.”
Seniors at greatest risk from over medicating
Seniors suffer from more serious health concerns then younger patients, they are prescribed higher doses of medications, but they also face the highest risks. Medical experts agree that doctors and patients both need more information about the dangers of over prescribing medications.
Seniors also seem more inclined to seek drugs for a variety of health conditions. Studies have shown that when patients ask for certain medications they are more likely to get them, but ending dependence on medications may be key.
Doctors may not only need better training and education, they may also need to learn to say no to their patients. Doctors can also work with patients to develop a treatment plan. For instance, if patients really do need medications they need a plan for how long they will be used. Ignorance should not be an excuse for doctors to simply write more prescriptions and for patients to blindly follow their advice.