The Beers Criteria and How It Helps You Stay Healthy

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016

what is the beers criteria?If you’re 65 or older, take heed:  There are drugs out there – both prescribed and over-the-counter – that should be avoided.

That’s the warning offered by the Beers Criteria, which, based on careful research, lists medications that older adults should be cautious about taking. The list, named after its creator, Dr. Mark Beers, first appeared about 25 years ago and is managed today by the American Geriatrics Society.

Why is the list important?  Because as people age, the way our bodies respond to medications also changes: We become much more likely to experience side effects. People ages 65 and older need to be aware of which medications have historically led to “bad” reactions in other older people, so they can either avoid these drugs or take them with great caution.

While dozens of drugs appear on the Beers Criteria, the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation particularly recommends that older people be cautious about taking the following 10 types of medications. If you are taking one of the medications listed, talk to your SoFHA physician about your concerns. DO NOT stop taking any medication without first talking with your physician.

Ten Medications that Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution
Note: Generic forms of drugs listed are italicized and in brackets.
  1. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
  2. Digoxin (e.g., Lanoxin) (used for heart failure and irregular heartbeats)
  3. Certain diabetes drugs (e.g., DiaBeta or Micronase [glyburide]; Diabinese [chlorpropamide])
  4. Muscle relaxants (e.g., Flexeril [cyclobenzaprine], Robaxin [methocarbamol], Soma [carisoprodol])
  5. Certain medications used for anxiety and/or insomnia (e.g., Valium [diazepam], Xanax [alprazolam], Librium [chlordiazepoxide], Sonata [zaleplon], Ambien [zolpidem] and Lunesta [eszopiclone])
  6. Certain anticholinergic drugs (e.g., Elavil [amitriptyline], Tofranil [imipramine], Artane [trihexyphenidyl], Bentyl [dicyclomine]) (used for asthma, incontinence, gastrointestinal cramps, muscular spasms, depression and sleep disorders)
  7. Pain reliever Demerol [meperidine]
  8. Certain over-the-counter products (those containing the antihistamines diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine)
  9. Antipsychotics (e.g., Haldol [aloperidol], Risperdal [risperidone], Seroquel [quetiapine])
  10. Estrogen pills and patches

To review a more detailed handout about the 10 medications listed, go to healthinaging.org. The recommendations and handout are provided by the American Geriatrics Society

For the complete Beers Criteria, go to onlinelibrary.wiley.com.