Many Older Adults Confused About Proper Use of Antibiotics: Poll

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TUESDAY, Feb. 23, 2021 — Many older Americans lack knowledge about antibiotics, with some admitting to using leftover medication, a new survey reveals.

More than 2,200 adults, aged 50 to 80, were questioned. Nine out of 10 said they’re cautious about using antibiotics, and nearly that number knew that overuse of the drugs can lead to them becoming ineffective, according to the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA).

Also, almost 56% agreed that doctors overprescribe antibiotics, but about one-third mistakenly thought that antibiotics could effectively treat colds or the flu. However, these illnesses are caused by viruses, while antibiotics kill bacteria.

The results show the need for health care providers to educate older patients about the proper use and disposal of antibiotics, according to the team from the university’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

The poll also found that 13% of the older adults who filled an antibiotic prescription said they had leftover medication, even though patients are usually advised to take all of the antibiotic medication.

Not finishing a prescribed course of antibiotics increases the risk that surviving bacteria will evolve resistance to future treatment by antibiotics, the study authors noted in a university news release…

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