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The legal needs of older people  ( 2004 )  Cite this report

Ch 5. Health



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Medication misuse


According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, 12.5 million people (69 per cent of the Australian population) had used some form of medication in the previous two weeks prior to being surveyed, 36 per cent of which were prescribed medicines.57 The level of medication use increases with age, with approximately 86 per cent of people aged over 65 using medication, compared with 59 per cent for the general public.58 The relatively higher use of medicines by older people can be attributed to their higher rates of chronic illness. Older people are also more likely to take multiple medications, with over 20 per cent of older people using more than four types of medicines,59 thus increasing the risk of adverse drug reactions. Age-related changes of the body, such as loss of vision and hearing can affect the ability to follow correct dosages.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, The Use of medication, Australian Social Trends 1998, Catalogue n.4102.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 1998. Available at <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/1F17401B0D5B9572CA2569AD000402AF?Open> (Last accessed 26 September 2003).
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Older Australia at a Glance, p. 70.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Older Australia at a Glance, p. 70.

57  Australian Bureau of Statistics, The Use of medication, Australian Social Trends 1998, Catalogue n.4102.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 1998. Available at <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/1F17401B0D5B9572CA2569AD000402AF?Open> (Last accessed 26 September 2003).
58  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Older Australia at a Glance, p. 70.
59  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Older Australia at a Glance, p. 70.


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Ellison, S, Schetzer, L, Mullins, Perry, J & Wong, K 2004, The legal needs of older people in NSW, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney