Elder care medication tips

Age-related changes can alter the way older people absorb, distribute, metabolize, and eliminate medications compared to younger adults or children. Medication dosages and routes may need adjustment to optimize the patient’s response to medication and help prevent adverse reactions. Understanding how age-related factors can alter how an older patient’s body uses medication will help you plan and implement your patient’s medication regimen and monitor the patient’s response appropriately. The table below describes how age-related factors can change the pharmacokinetics of medications in older adults.
Pharmacokinetics Age-related change Effect on pharmacokinetics
Absorption Diminished quality and quantity of digestive enzymes Decreased
Increased gastric pH Increased or decreased
Decreased GI motility and emptying time Decreased
Decreased GI blood flow Decreased
Diminished number of absorbing cells Decreased
Distribution Diminished cardiac output and reserve Decreased
Diminished blood flow to target organs and tissues Decreased
Decreased lean body mass Decreased
Increased adipose tissue Increased or decreased
Decreased circulating plasma proteins Decreased
Decreased total body water Decreased
Metabolism Decreased liver size Decreased
Diminished intestinal and portal vein blood flow Decreased
Excretion Decreased GFR Decreased
Decreased renal tubular secretion Decreased
Decreased renal blood flow from renovascular occlusive disease, microvascular nephropathy, or HF Decreased
Comerford, K.C. & Durkin, M.T.  (2022). Nursing2022 drug handbook. (42nd edition.) Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.