A large number of seniors take prescription medications to help manage disease. But medications may come with side effects, and weight gain is a typical side effect of certain drugs. Here are some common medications that contribute to undesirable weight gain.
According to research, nearly 90 percent of aging people regularly take at least one prescription medicine per day. The average elderly individual takes four or more prescription drugs each day. Approximately 39 percent of seniors take five or more prescription medications on a daily basis.
Each drug treats or manages a specific, oftentimes chronic, medical issue, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis; these drugs are taken for years. Other medications may be prescribed for the short-term, such as to treat infections, certain types of pain or constipation.
Weight gain is a medication side effect in some people. Putting on the added pounds depends on numerous factors, such as the specific drug, age, sleep patterns and any other medications being concurrently taken. Seniors may gain a few pounds over a year, while others gain 10 to 20 pounds.
How do medications cause weight gain?
Weight gain attributed to prescription medications has various causes. Some drugs stimulate a senior’s appetite, compelling her to eat more and put on extra weight. Medications can also affect a senior’s metabolism, causing the body to burn calories at a slower rate.
Medications can cause a senior’s body to retain water; while she won’t put on extra fat, she will weigh more. Other drugs affect how the aging body stores and absorbs nutrients and sugars. If medicines cause a senior to be short of breath, she may not exercise and gain weight.
What medications cause weight gain?
- Diabetes medications
Managing type 2 diabetes requires maintaining a healthy weight. However, this is made more difficult, since some diabetes drugs, like injectable insulin, cause weight gain. The hormone helps the body’s cells absorb glucose. When the cells absorb too much, the body converts it into fat.
Blood sugar levels are significantly reduced in seniors who take sulfonylureas, like glipizide or glyburide. Although effective in managing diabetes, the drug can cause a weight gain of 4 to 5 pounds on average. The drug releases insulin by stimulating beta cells in the pancreas.
Commonly prescribed antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is involved in weight regulation and appetite. An elevated level of serotonin can interfere with this process and cause significant weight gain.
Beta-blockers are often prescribed to treat hypertension, angina, and irregular heartbeat. This drug is effective in slowing the heart rate and its output of blood, both of which lower blood pressure. Its side effects, like insomnia and fatigue, lead to a less physically active lifestyle and added weight gain.
The weight gain is attributed to changes in metabolism, effect on skeletal muscle metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
- Oral corticosteroids
Fluid retention and the resulting weight gain are side effects of oral corticosteroids. These oral corticosteroids are prescribed for common conditions that can affect the elderly, from rashes to severe allergies as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
Weight gain can be avoided by eating a balanced diet rich in low-glycemic foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Other foods that are slowly digested and absorbed, thereby causing a smaller spike in blood sugar levels, include beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, and minimally processed grains.
- Migraine medications
Weight gain is a typical side effect of many drugs that help prevent migraines . Extra body weight can cause the senior to experience more frequent and more severe migraines. Obese and overweight individuals are more likely to develop chronic migraines.
Elderly individuals who take medications that prevent migraines and are concerned about weight gain side effects are encouraged to talk to their doctor about switching to a medication that may suppress appetite.
When weight gain is a bothersome side effect of medication, a senior is less likely to adhere to the medication regimen. Reducing medication noncompliance can be achieved by talking to the doctor about switching to a newer class of drug or a different medication without these side effects.
Newer medications that promote weight loss should be considered, since significant weight gain can compromise a senior’s health. Older adults with obesity are at risk for developing serious diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and even death. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new weight loss regimen.
When your elderly loved one complains about weight gain resulting from taking certain medications, it’s important to discuss the problem with the senior’s physician. Assisting Hands Home Care professionals can also provide the non-medical support the senior needs to stay healthy, including preparing healthy meals that comply with diet requirements, drinking plenty of liquids, and encouraging your loved one to walk and remain active.
Dedicated caregivers from our reputable home care agency will drive the elderly individual to the doctor’s office to discuss medication side effects. If the physician prescribes an alternative drug, we’ll provide the necessary medication reminders so that the senior adheres to the drug schedule.
As senior care providers, Assisting Hands Home Care offers more than support with the activities of daily living. While we assist with personal hygiene tasks, perform light housekeeping, and shop for groceries, we are also excellent companions. Our companion care wards off loneliness and isolation.
Companion caregivers build strong bonds with the seniors we serve. We initiate conversations about life experiences, participate in hobbies with care recipients, and stimulate their minds with card games, puzzles, or board games.
Our caregivers can also accompany them on walks and encourage them to do more physical activities to keep them active. This not only makes physical activity more enjoyable, but also helps seniors keep off extra weight.
If your senior loved one living in BallenIsles, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Singer Island, Wellington, West Palm Beach, or the surrounding communities, requires compassionate senior care, turn to Assisting Hands Home Care. We’ll visit the senior at home and develop a customized care plan to meet all care needs. Call (561) 781-5885 today to start quality senior care.