Remember when people had to be reminded to take their vitamins?
Those days are long gone. As it turns out, like social media, vitamins and mineral supplements are now in vogue with the senior set, and their popularity has been rising for some time. This is in large part due to the accessibility of information about these health products on the Internet. According the Pew Research Center, more than 70 percent of adults in the United States with Internet access use the worldwide web to research health and wellness information, and the vitamin and supplement market is benefiting greatly.
However, older adults have more to think about when considering the prospect of taking a vitamin or mineral supplement. The reason for this is that as people age, they experience a higher incidence of prescription drug use. According to a 2014 study, although people aged 65+ made up only 13 percent of the population, they accounted for one third of total outpatient spending on prescription medications in the United States.
The latest research warns consumers of the serious dangers associated with combining certain prescription medications with over-the-counter vitamins and herbal supplements. In some cases, these combinations can even be deadly, such as the interactions between blood pressure drugs and supplements such as omega-3 fish oil. According to Dr. Dima Qato, a University of Illinois assistant professor of pharmacy systems, “A medication or supplement may be safe and beneficial when you use it alone, but when you mix it with other medications or supplements, it can be very dangerous.”
Another study found that physicians often do not ask their patients about vitamin and supplement use, and that patients generally do not volunteer the information without being prompted. It’s crucial to be vigilant about providing healthcare providers with a list of all medications being taken, including any supplements, so that each physician is not only aware of, but has approved of, these combinations.
At Midnight Sun Home Care, the personal care assistant Anchorage families trust, one of our top priorities is to help our clients live safely and comfortably in their own homes. Our in-home care services can include helping older adults keep track of the medications, vitamins, and supplements they are taking so that this vital information can be communicated to their healthcare professionals. We can also provide transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ visits and prescription pick-ups, as well as a variety of other supportive services.