Aging with Asthma Part II

Nancy Sanker Health Guide
  • Seniors with Asthma

    Your neighbors may chuckle while saying, “Asthma is a young child’s disease.” That’s a myth that makes millions of seniors do anything but chuckle. Each year individuals who thought they “outgrew” their asthma are startled to discover it has boomeranged right back into their lives. Others join the ranks of the newly diagnosed seniors with asthma each year. In fact, the average age for aspirin-induced asthma is 46 years. The aspirin reaction can be caused by other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like naproxen and ibuprofen.

    The challenges posed to health care professionals continue. Asthma can be difficult to diagnose in older adults as there may be co-existing conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular and other pulmonary conditions. Asthma and other respiratory diseases are common in mature adults as lung function starts to steadily decrease for those of us lucky to be to be in the fastest growing segment of the population of “40 and older.”

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    The unlucky fact is that medications for other diseases can provoke asthma. According to Richard W. Honsinger, Jr., M.D., beta-blocker eye drops for glaucoma can cause asthma flares as well as beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors taken for blood pressure.

    Your Personal Medication Record (PMR)

    Feel like life is spinning out of control? I certainly do – and that was even before the move! Here’s a way to gain control and perhaps, feel better in the process. A PMR is a form for tracking all medications taken, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements and vitamins. In a study the AARP conducted in 2005, only 27% of 1,023 individuals over 50 years of age said they had heard of a personal medication record. I’ll be honest…. before this week I had never heard of a PMR. And what could be a more effective time-saver and potential life-saver plus a valuable assist for my healthcare professionals? Visit for more information and a form which is available in English and Spanish.

    Campaign for Reform

    Now you know what you can do to make a difference in the crystal ball of your health future. I hope you are acutely aware that the challenges awaiting older Americans are monumental and merit change. What can you do to help? The Alliance for Aging Research has defined areas that need your support to promote the safe and effective use of medications in the mature population including:

    • A list of medications considered potentially inappropriate for use in older people needs to be compiled and distributed. The list would be a valuable screening tool.

    • Over-the-counter medications need geriatric-relevant labeling.

    • Additional funding is needed for research on medication-related problems.

    • There should be incentives to study medication effects in the frail elderly and the “oldest of the old” in pre- and post-marketing clinical trials.

    • Additional older Americans should participate in clinical trials.

  • • Healthcare professionals’ competency in geriatric pharmacotherapy should be encouraged.

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    • Education and resources for caregivers providing medication assistance to old people should be funded.

    Supporting the above endeavors is, “Quite a tall order,” as my Mom used to say. But the statistics are compelling and now is the time to make a difference.

    Make a promise to yourself that you will, at the very least, fill out your Personal Medication Record, keep it on file in your computer or as a hard copy and then tuck a copy in your wallet or purse. I just did…and that’s one (and about the only) segment of my life that is organized!

    You may also enjoy these blogs:

    Aging with Asthma Part I

    Food Factors in Asthma

Published On: December 08, 2006