Which Issue Related to Antibiotic Use is an Increased Risk for the Older Adult?

Antibiotics are powerful drugs that can treat bacterial infections and save lives. However, they also have some drawbacks, especially for older adults. One of the major issues related to antibiotic use that poses an increased risk for the older adult is antibiotic resistance.

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to survive and grow in the presence of antibiotics that would normally kill them. This means that the antibiotics become less effective or even useless against these bacteria. According to Medical Xpress, antibiotic resistance is one of the most important threats to human health.

How Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics and develop genetic mutations or acquire genes from other bacteria that allow them to resist the effects of the drugs. Some of the factors that contribute to antibiotic resistance are:

  • Overuse and misuse of antibiotics, such as taking them when they are not needed, not completing the prescribed course, or using leftover antibiotics from previous prescriptions.
  • Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics, such as giving broad-spectrum antibiotics that kill many types of bacteria instead of narrow-spectrum antibiotics that target specific bacteria.
  • Lack of infection control measures, such as hygiene, sanitation, and vaccination, that prevent the spread of bacteria.

Why is Antibiotic Resistance a Risk for Older Adults?

Older adults are more vulnerable to antibiotic resistance for several reasons:

  • They have weaker immune systems and more chronic conditions that make them more prone to infections and complications.
  • They often take multiple medications that may interact with antibiotics and affect their effectiveness or safety.
  • They are more likely to be hospitalized or live in nursing homes where they may encounter resistant bacteria from other patients or staff.

According to BMC Nursing, older adults in nursing homes often receive antibiotics when they are not indicated. This can increase the risk of developing resistant infections and adverse effects from antibiotics.

How Can Older Adults Prevent Antibiotic Resistance?

There are some steps that older adults can take to prevent antibiotic resistance and protect their health:

  • Only take antibiotics when prescribed by a health care professional and follow the instructions carefully.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics for viral infections, such as colds, flu, or coughs, as they will not help and may harm.
  • Do not use leftover antibiotics or share them with others.
  • Dispose of unused or expired antibiotics properly by returning them to a pharmacy or a take-back program.
  • Practice good hygiene, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding contact with sick people.
  • Get vaccinated against preventable diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia.
  • Seek medical attention promptly if you have signs of infection, such as fever, pain, swelling, or pus.


Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue that affects everyone, but especially older adults. By using antibiotics wisely and responsibly, older adults can reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance and improve their health outcomes.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment