The need to review an elderly person's medication periodically cannot be overstated. And, the need to be thorough is equally important. Let me tell you about a case that illustrates this very well.
Mrs. S.C. is an 85 year old woman that enjoyed a relatively independent lifestyle except for a little help from her daughter with financial matters. She was in fairly good health but suffered from hypertension, constipation, arthritis and hemorrhoids.
The ointment in question was prescribed some time ago and was nifedipine-based. The latter drug when administered orally is used to treat hypertension. In the treatment of hemorrhoids, nifedipine is used to constrict blood vessels in the rectal region and as a result helps to provide relief of symptoms. Given that a certain fraction of topically applied nifedine can be absorbed, the ointment was stopped and replaced with another non-nifedipine based ointment. Her low blood pressure returned to normal and the symptoms of lightheadedness resolved. Her cognitive status improved dramatically over the course of several weeks and she returned to her rehabilitation program.