Q. I've heard a lot through the years about the benefits of aspirin. What's the latest? My 85-year-old father used to be good at taking all his medications and other non-prescription aids such as aspirin, but I fear he's forgetting more and more.
A: Please encourage your father to make an appointment with his doctor. Accompany him on the visit but, if you can't be there, ask a trusted friend, family member or professional caregiver to go with him.
His doctor can determine if he's taking his medications properly and regularly. Updated recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say aspirin should be used by older men to prevent heart attacks and older women to prevent strokes, but once senior citizens reach age 80 it may become too risky to continue aspirin therapy due to the increased threat of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
Patients and clinicians should consider risk factors - including age, gender, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and risk of gastrointestinal bleeding - before deciding whether to use aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes, according to these new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The Task Force could not find clear evidence that the benefits of using aspirin outweigh the risks in people 80 years or older.
These recommendations, published in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, do not apply to people who already have had a heart attack or stroke.
So it would be best for your dad to discuss whether continued aspirin usage would be good for his health.
If your dad is having trouble remembering to take medications, two suggestions may help.
First, ask his doctor about a pill organizer. These are tools that can hold pills and are organized by days so that seniors can easily remember if they have taken their medications. Also, why not ask your father if he would consider companionship assistance.
Home Instead Senior Care, for instance, hires CAREGivers to assist senior with various non-medical home care and companionship tasks such as medication reminders. The companionship of a CAREGiver and help with meal preparation and light housekeeping also may keep seniors healthier longer.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, call 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.
For more about aspirin usage, log on to www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsasmi.htm.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton and Montour counties.