Beers List of Medications That May Be Inappropriate for the Elderly

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Did you know that some medications may be considered inappropriate for elderly patients? I didn’t! I discovered this while visiting The Care Navigator.  It’s definitely vital information for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our families!

After reading her article, I did some research on the Beers Criteria she mentioned learning how the Beers List of Medications began and what questions to ask about each medication on it, such as “What is this medicine supposed to do.” These range from Xanax Medication to Mineral Oil! I would never have guessed that! CBC News (Canadian Broadcasting Centre)  wrote that the medications were on this list “because they are either ineffective in the elderly or put seniors at an unnecessarily high risk when safer alternatives are available, as outlined by a widely cited study known as the Beers criteria.” The list that CBC News provides has been modified to only include medications you can get in Canada. Their article also includes a good search tip on how to find the item if it is a generic. It’s well worth reading.

The Archives of Internal Medicine was a good site for serious researching of the medications taken by the aging parents and other relatives we are providing senior home care for – whether in our home, living close, or long distance. As they explained in their results section:

“Table 1 contains 48 individual medications or classes of medications to avoid in older adults and their potential concerns. Table 2 lists 20 diseases or conditions and medications to be avoided in older adults with these conditions. Sixty-six of these potentially inappropriate drugs were considered by the panel to have adverse outcomes of high severity. New conditions and diagnoses that were addressed this time included depression, cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, anorexia, and malnutrition, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, and obesity.”

I really appreciated the information they provided in these tables as they listed the drug, explained what the concern was, whether the level of concern is high or low, and what steps, if any, we can take to enable our senior parents to safely take the medication or find safe alternatives. If you’d like a smaller list, in a handy format for popping into a purse or wallet, Duke Clinical Research Institute provides a “summary report”  from The Archives of Internal Medicine’s list. All of this information was very interesting and useful to each of us as senior home care givers!


Of course, as with all other information on this website, we need to print it out and take it to our aging parents’ doctors, along with a list of our parents’ medications. There we can discuss with their doctors the ramifications of any items our parents are taking, from mineral oil to Xanax medication and everything in between, that might be on the Beers List, then follow their doctor’s directions. Some medications may be prescribed or recommended purposefully, in spite of being on this list, because it is the only thing that will do. Other times, however, the doctors may realize that another medication is called for. I will definitely be keeping this article and the lists handy, on my computer and in a printout in my purse, so I can discuss my senior mom’s medications more knowledgeably the next time we have to head for a doctor’s visit or the emergency room! That’s a big help for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our family!

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