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What Happens When an Elderly Resident Takes a Medication?

By Heather Brown
December 24, 2014

After a pill (tablet or capsule) is swallowed it goes into the stomach where it is broken down into small particles. Medication then passes through the stomach and intestines and goes into the bloodstream. The blood carries the medication to the part of the body it is intended to act. Later the medication is removed from the body. .

The kidneys and liver are the organs that remove most medications from the body. Certain diseases may affect the kidney (examples – high blood pressure or diabetes may damage the kidneys). Certain medications may prevent other medications or the kidney itself from removing medications properly. .

Changes that occur in the kidneys with aging: .

If the kidneys slow down, the removal of some medications slows down. .

If a resident continues to take the same dose of medication, medication blood levels may become higher, because the medication is not removed as fast as it should.

Due to kidneys not properly functioning, high blood levels of medications then may cause side effects. If you know a drug is going to be cleared from the body by the kidneys, carefully watch for side effects. .

Changes that occur with the liver with aging: .

The liver is important in breaking down many medications. .

Medications that are removed from the kidneys are often needed to be broken down by the liver before the kidneys can filter and remove them from the body. Liver disease caused by things such as chronic drinking of alcohol can affect the way medications are broken down. Certain medications may also prevent other medications from being broken down in the liver properly; if you know a drug is broken down by the liver, carefully watch for side effects. .

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