Taking multiple medications slows older adults’ walking speed

Earlier this week I told you about a study that revealed statins are being prescribed needlessly to countless older Americans.

One of the reasons that’s a problem — beyond the fact that statins come with a frightening list of risks and side effects — is that older adults are already taking too many medications. Adding one more is not harmless. Not to the pocketbook or the body.

A new study shows that taking more than five medications is linked with slower walking speeds in older adults. And while that may not seem like a big deal, it is. Because walking ability is key to independence and health as we get older.

We already know that taking several medications has other risks — including frailty, risk of falling, and disability — so this is just one more reason to look at your medicine cabinet with a critical eye. Work with a well-informed doctor to determine if you really need every medication you’re taking. Or if, as in the case of statins, you’re being prescribed drugs that provide more risk than reward.