Beers Criteria – what medications older adults should avoid or use with caution (updated March 2012)

This is an important New York Times article about a “crisis among the elderly” — they are being prescribed too many pills.

With the support of the American Geriatrics Society (, a panel of 11 experts has updated what is known as the “Beers Criteria”:

“[These are] guidelines long used to minimize…drug-related disasters in the elderly.  … The team highlighted 53 potentially inappropriate medications or classes of medication and placed them in one of three categories: drugs to avoid in general in the elderly; drugs to avoid in older people with certain diseases and syndromes; and drugs to use with caution in the elderly if there are no acceptable alternatives.”

The article’s author notes that:

“[Just] because a drug is on one of the lists in the Beers Criteria does not mean every older person would be adversely affected by it. The drug may be essential for some patients, and there may be no safer alternative. When all is said and done, a doctor must weigh the benefits and risks.”

Here’s a link to the full article:

Too Many Pills for Aging Patients
Personal Health
New York Times
By Jane E. Broady
April 16, 2012, 5:41 pm

Here’s a link to the lay description of the Beers Criteria, updated in March 2012:

That PDF is important to print out and keep with your medication lists and medical records.