Health care professionals may find the following general resources helpful in their work to manage medications for older adult patients.

Appropriate Prescribing for Elderly People

  • Beers Criteria
    The Beers Criteria is a list of medications that has been updated through the years to assist practitioners, researchers and policy makers with evaluating potentially inappropriate medications in older adults. It discusses high-risk medications, drug-disease interactions, as well as doses that should not be exceeded.

  • Merck Manual of Geriatrics
    The Merck Manual offers an introduction to geriatric medicine. It includes information about safe drug use and prevention of diseases and disability in elderly people. It also gives a perspective on funding of health care and social issues in the elderly.

Cultural Awareness

  • EthnoMed
    This resource was developed by the University of Washington and "contains information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and related topics pertinent to the health care of immigrants."  The clinical topics and patient education sections are conveniently categorized by both topic and culture/language.  There is also a compilation of resources on cross-cultural health.

Disposal of Drugs

  • FDA on Disposal of Unused Medicines
    The Food and Drug Administration presents an updated overview on the proper disposal of medications, including Medicine Take-Back Programs and disposing of medications at home.  There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section and a List of Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing. They also have an internet resource on medication disposal for consumers.

Drug-Drug Interaction Identifiers

The following reference tools can be used for checking for drug-drug interactions. Enter the patient’s medicines and the tool will notify you if any relevant drug-drug interactions are identified.

Health Directory

  • Find a Physician (Little Blue Book)
    This health directory helps you in finding detailed contact information for the physician, pharmacy or hospital you are looking for by entering a zip code, city and state, or physician name. The system requires you to signed up for a Medscape account (free of charge) to use this resource.

Health Literacy

  • AHRQ Health Literacy Tools
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) posted two tools that can be used to assess health literacy.  These tools include the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine-Short Form (REALM-SF) and the Short Assessment of Health Literacy for Spanish Adults (SAHLSA-50).
  • CDC Health Literacy for Older Adults
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has generated resource specific for older adults and health literacy issues.  This section on the CDC health literacy web site provides resources on “Guidance and Standards” for generating materials that will match the health literacy of the aging population.  Examples of these resources include but are not limited to communication guidelines, web communication guidance, and health education tools.

Medication Safety

  • Reducing Adverse Drug Events in the Elderly
    The Delmarva Foundation provides a wide range of resources to illustrate the ways in which pharmacists can help reduce adverse drug events among older adults, including anticoagulation management, pain management, and other resources and educational sites.
  • A Systems Approach to Quality Improvement in Long-Term Care: Safe Medication Practices Workbook [PDF]
    The Safe Medication Practices Workbook “outlines a medication management system in long-term care.”  It contains 15 Tabs, each of which highlights a specific process within the system. Under each Tab is an explanation along with tools, reminders and resources for that section.  These Tabs include the areas of prescribing, dispensing, monitoring, educating residents and families, and much more.  This workbook was made by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, Masspro, the Health Care Quality Improvement Organization for Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Extended Care Federation.

Pill Identifier

  • RxList Pill Identification Tool
    This resource allows you to identify unknown pills, for example when the original packing is missing. Enter the imprint, color and/or shape of the pill and the system will present images of pills according to the description. Review the images in order to identify the unknown medication.

Reference Tools

  • Anatomy Reference
    This Medscape reference contains an alphabetized list of resources on human anatomy information.
  • Procedures Reference
    This Medscape reference includes information and explanations of different medical procedures. You may browse by therapeutic area.

Substance Abuse and Misuse with Older Adults

  • At Any Age, It Does Matter: Substance Abuse and Older Adults (for Professionals) [PDF]
    This modular course for health professionals working with older adult addresses the issue of substance misuse and abuse.  The learning modules include recognizing alcohol/substance misuse and abuse, diagnosing substance problems in older adults, prevention and early intervention, treatment, legal and ethical issues, and more.
  • Managing Chronic Pain in Adults With or in Recovery From Substance Use Disorders [PDF]
    This publication, provided to the public by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides guidance in treating chronic pain in adults with or recovering from substance abuse disorders.  It offers Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIPs) developed by the Center of Substance Abuse Treatment, an introduction in chronic pain and addiction, patient assessment tools, tools and guidelines in managing addiction risk in patients treated with opioids, patient education and treatment agreements, and much more.

Other Tools

Suggested Readings