Common Medications for the Elderly


Understanding Your Loved One’s Prescriptions Can Help Manage Their Daily Medications.
When your elderly loved one needs help managing their medications, weekly pill sorters can only do so much. And with so many conditions commonly affecting older populations, it’s likely that your loved one takes at least one or two vital prescription medications.

If your elderly family member has been recently diagnosed with a major condition, and they need intermittent care from a nurse, home health care services can help – including with medication management. But if your loved one doesn’t qualify for a visiting nurse from a local home health agency, you may need to step in.

Ask your loved one about their medications, read pill bottle labels, and use this helpful list to discern what each is for. Keep in mind that:

  • This list is not comprehensive. There are many other health conditions and types of medications that your loved one may take every day.
  • Medications listed here can include both or either brand name or generic name. Your loved one’s medication may be listed here under a different name as a result.
  • Never take medical advice from the Internet. Always seek care from a medical professional or call your pharmacist to get answers to your medication questions.

Statins and Other Cholesterol Medications

There are many medications that lower blood cholesterol levels, commonly called statins. However, in patients with whom statins are ineffective or cause side effects, other drugs are prescribed. Some statins affect the liver or the intestines, while other medications prevent the formation of cholesterol in the blood. Regardless of the type of medication, the goal is to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Your loved one may be prescribed statins like Lipitor, Pravastatin, or Mevacor; nicotinic acids like niacin; cholesterol absorption inhibitors like Zetia; or a combination statin/cholesterol absorption inhibitor like Vytorin. You can use am pm pill box to keep track on your medications.

Lasix or Diuretics

This type of medication is sometimes called “water pills” because it causes the body to get rid of excess fluids and sodium through an increase in urination. These medications can help reduce stress on the heart and fluid build-up in the lungs or legs. Diuretics can help to lower blood pressure or reduce edema in the body. Your loved one may take medications like Diuril, Aldactone, Demadex, Chlorothiazide, or Acetazolamide.

Blood Thinners

Also called anticoagulants, blood thinners inhibit the ability of the blood to clot. They do not actually thin the blood, nor can they dissolve existing clots. Blood thinners are used to treat blood vessel, lung, and heart conditions and are often prescribed to those who are at risk of stroke. You may find these in your loved one’s medicine cabinet under names like Heparin, Xarelto, Warfarin, or Coumadin.

Type 2 Diabetes Medications

Type 2 diabetes means your loved one’s body doesn’t use insulin properly; insulin is created in the body. Some people can control their blood glucose with healthy diets and exercise, while others require medication or insulin.

If your loved one takes insulin, they may use a pen, pump, or injection. Insulin inhalers – used orally – are less common. However, medications other than insulin are used in Type 2 diabetes patients. The medication Metformin works by lowering glucose production in the liver; sulfonylureas, like glipizide, work by helping your body make more insulin available for use.

Common injectable medications, called GLP-1 receptor agonists, have become more popular in recent years; these slow digestion and help lower blood glucose levels and are sold under brand names Ozempic, Saxenda, or Rybelsus.

ACE Inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors expand the blood vessels and lower angiotensin II, a type of endocrine hormone. ACE inhibitors allow blood to flow more easily throughout the body and helps the heart work more efficiently. Your loved one may be prescribed this medication to manage high blood pressure or heart failure. You may find these in your loved one’s medicine cabinet under names like Vasotec, Accupril, Lisinopril, or Lotensin.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Angiotensin II receptor blockers prevent angiotensin II from affecting the heart and blood vessels. In turn, they keep blood pressure from elevating. Otherwise, these medications help treat the same type of ailments as ACE inhibitors. You may find these in your loved one’s medicine cabinet under names like Valsartan, Edarbi, Benicar, or Losartan.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers help decrease heart rate and the force of the heart’s contraction. As a result, they lower blood pressure and help the heart to beat more slowly and less forcefully. Your loved one may take beta blockers to lower their blood pressure, treat abnormal heart rhythms (called cardiac arrhythmia), aid in controlling chest pain, and to prevent heart attacks. These medications are commonly sold under names that include Lopressor, Betaxolol, Acebutolol, Propranolol, and Zebeta. Note that propranolol can also be used to prevent migraine headaches.


Vasodilators relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Some vasodilators may also increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and reduce chest pain, called angina. Common vasodilators include Nitroglycerin, Minoxidil, and Isordil. Keep in mind that Minoxidil is also used in hair regrowth treatments.


Antidepressants are used over the long-term to treat depression. They work by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain to relieve depression symptoms and sometimes generalized anxiety. Antidepressants come in many forms, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram, and escitalopram.
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like Cymbalta, Effexor, or Pristiq.
  • Tricyclics are less frequently prescribed. The most common names include amitriptyline, doxepin, or Norpramin.
  • Atypical antidepressants, like trazodone, Remeron, Trintellix, bupropion or Wellbutrin.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are seldom prescribed and are only used when other medications have failed. MAOIs require following a strict diet and avoiding simple medications like decongestants and cannot be combined with SSRIs. The most common MAOIs are tranylcypromine, phenelzine, or isocarboxazid.
  • Other medications, such as lithium, Abilify, or seroquel, which are added on to a medication regimen to augment other antidepressants.

Osteoporosis Medications

Also called brittle bone disease, osteoporosis makes bones more fragile, usually as a result of hormone changes or calcium or vitamin D deficiency. In addition to a healthy diet, medications called bisphosphonates can treat osteoporosis. These may be a weekly or monthly pill, or a quarterly or annual IV infusion. Pill medications include Fosamax, Actonel, or Boniva. Reclast or Boniva can be given in an IV infusion.

Pain Medications

With age comes certain conditions that can cause bodily pain, including arthritis. Depending on the cause of pain, your loved one’s doctor can prescribe a variety of medications. For arthritis pain, Celebrex is quite common.

Narcotic pain medications are prescribed for serious conditions; these medications can include codeine, morphine, or oxycodone. Your loved one’s doctor may recommend acetaminophen for mild to moderate pain; it is available over-the-counter.


Elderly people prone to bacterial infection are commonly prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections – not viral infections. Frequent urinary tract infections, open wounds, certain respiratory diseases, and other conditions may require antibiotic treatment. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics include doxycycline, amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, clindamycin, and cephalexin.

Prescription Supplements

For elderly people who lack adequate nutrients in their diet, prescription supplements can help make up for it. Your loved one’s doctor may require that they take calcium or iron supplements – most commonly for women. Prescription supplements are generally given in higher doses than what is available over the counter. Stay refreshed with for a more amazing informative pieces ideas.