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Older People Suffer Side Effects

Q. I am worried about my husband. He is in his 80s and used to be active and fully engaged in our church and community. Now he is suffering from back and leg pain, neck spasms, weakness, dizziness and brain fog. Many days he just sits in the recliner watching TV.

I wonder if his medications could be contributing to his problems. They include atenolol, simvastatin, Plavix, Nexium, meclizine, Detrol and amlodipine.

A. Older people often receive medications from a variety of specialists. This can lead to complications if no one is coordinating care.

Your husband’s pain, weakness and spasms may be related to the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin. The bladder drug tolterodine (Detrol) could contribute to “brain fog.” So can the drug meclizine prescribed for dizziness. The amlodipine (Norvasc) for high blood pressure may cause dizziness and drowsiness. If an older person falls, it can be life threatening.

We are sending you our Guide to Drugs and Older People with lists of medicine that senior citizens should avoid along with a discussion of medications that may cause confusion.

One woman reported that when her husband’s medicines were modified, his dizziness, leg pain, memory fog and “dumbness” disappeared. The Detrol he was taking “almost had him diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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