1 in 5 older adults take leftover antibiotics, survey finds

Many older patients do not take antibiotics as prescribed or understand the appropriate uses for them, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

For the survey, researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in Ann Arbor polled 2,256 adults ages 50 to 80 on their perceptions about the overuse of tests and medications, including antibiotics.

Five survey findings:

1. Eighty-nine percent of respondents understand that the overuse of antibiotics causes resistance.

2. However, 34 percent incorrectly assumed that antibiotics would help them recover from a cold or the flu sooner.

3. Thirteen percent of respondents reported having leftover antibiotics in the last two years, contradicting common medical instructions to take the full course of pills.

4. Nineteen percent of respondents admitted to taking antibiotics without consulting a medical professional.

5. Fifty-six percent said they thought physicians overprescribed antibiotics, while 23 percent said physicians didn't prescribe them when they should've.

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