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Aspirin Use for Older Adults Should be Doctor-Directed

Aspirin has been touted as a miracle drug of sorts, being attributed by medical professionals as a preventative for heart attacks and strokes. But it’s not for everyone. Make sure that a senior loved one has a doctor’s blessing before taking a daily dose of aspirin.


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.


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 an issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, do not apply to people who have already 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, go to to discover other resources that can help your father and you keep track of his medications and medical records.   


Also, why not ask your father if he would consider companionship assistance. The local Home Instead Senior Care® office, for instance, hires CAREGiversSM to assist seniors 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.


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