Tips for Choosing the Safest Over the Counter Painkillers for Seniors

Once you get past age 40, you will face more physical aches and pains than you did when you were younger. Aging happens, pain medications help. However, overuse of NSAIDs can be harmful. Plus, some pain medications may not mix well with other meds you are taking.

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Tips for Choosing the Safest Over the Counter Painkillers for Seniors
3 Min Read February 4th, 2017 Updated:February 13th, 2022

It comes with the territory. Anyone over age 40 has noticed changes in their body and health. You will experience more pain, be it from simple arthritis to more severe pain from chronic health problems. However, once you get over age 60, you will need to be very careful with the pain medication you take. In fact, overuse of some pain medications may lead to significant health problems down the road.

The question is, what over-the-counter analgesics are safest for older people? The misuse of over-the-counter pain medication can be very harmful to the overall health of older people. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing pain and taking pain medication, being careful with medication use is essential to overall health.

Acetaminophen - Usually a Safe Choice

Most medical experts recommend using acetaminophen, better known by the name brand of Tylenol, which is considered safe for most people up to a maximum daily dose of  3,000 mg.

However, those with chronic liver disease will want to avoid the ongoing use of acetaminophen. Be sure to speak with a doctor if you, or a loved one, have liver problems. 

You should also consider the prescription medication that is being taken. WebMD suggests filling all prescriptions at one pharmacy. A pharmacist will tell you if any over-the-counter medicines, including pain medications, will interact with any drugs and other OTC or herbal medications that are being taken.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for pain. NSAIDs are a class of medication that older people should be careful about taking. NSAIDs are medications like ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin (Bayer and Bufferin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). These medications can be beneficial with many types of pain, but overuse can be dangerous.   

A commonly prescribed blood thinner, warfarin (Coumadin), have severe interactions with NSAIDs. In fact, there are many medications and herbal remedies that weaken or strengthen the effects of Coumadin.

Doctors suggest that if you have any concerns about the medications you or a loved one are taking and how they may interact with OTC pain medications, be sure to just ask your pharmacist. 

Better Health While Aging website says NSAIDs have side effects that include:

  • Risk of bleeding including a higher risk of bleeding ulcers
  • Problems with kidney function
  • Interference with blood pressure medications
  • Risk of heart failure

Prepare for Aging Before You Get Older

You need not suffer from headaches or muscle pains when getting older. The point is to be sure you or your older family member is aware of the amount of OTC pain medication being used and how it may interact with other medicines. 

Pain comes with the territory. You will face changes in your health, body, and mind in the decades ahead. These changes may result in a need for long-term health care. Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens of aging is also an essential part of retirement planning. 

Luckily, today's consumers are very aware of the need to plan for longevity and its impact on savings and lifestyle. Interest in Long-Term Care Insurance has increased as American families see first-hand the impact aging and health has on a family's savings and lifestyle. 

While many people turn to the Internet or a local insurance agent or financial advisor, many ask whom they should turn to find accurate information.

LTC Insurance is Key to Planning

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) is a national consumer education and advocacy group. They recommend that consumers find an experienced, qualified specialist who represents multiple major companies to help them research and shop for affordable LTC Insurance. 

Many general insurance agents and financial advisors lack the proper understanding of policy design, underwriting, partnership requirements, and claims. 

Be sure to start researching your options when you still enjoy good health, ideally in your 40s and 50s. These policies are medically underwritten, so you can't wait until you have multiple health issues to obtain coverage. 

You will face health and pain in the years ahead. Planning will ease the stress and give your family peace of mind.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

The problem of long-term care is both a cash flow issue and a family issue. Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens associated with long-term health care is key to enjoying a successful future retirement.

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If a loved one needs care, now help them by reading our four guides -  

If they are lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Get Help in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help.

LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work, free with no obligation. 

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