Defective products pose a risk of injury and death to seniors

The Census Bureau reports that as of 2014, approximately 13.8 percent of the more than 8 million people living in Virginia were over the age of 65. The Administration on Aging (AoA) estimates by the year 2030, almost 19 percent of Virginia's population will be 65 or older. The process of getting older often presents risks to our health and well-being as our bodies and minds age. Among the risks posed to our more elderly seniors are defective or dangerous consumer products and prescription drugs.

A recent European Union study concluded that some chemical consumer products are packaged in such an attractive fashion that it might lead "vulnerable people, such as children or elderly people" to ingest them. A 2011 submission to the Consumer Products Safety Commission related that a certain type of lamp oil in the United States had been packaged in manner that might appear, to the elderly or children, that it was a juice container. Indeed, an 85-year-old woman in New Jersey died after consuming the lamp oil which she had supposed to be apple juice!

Consumer products specifically designed for elderly citizens can be highly dangerous. Organizations such as Public Citizen repeatedly call attention to the fact that portable bed rails-meant to keep elderly people from falling from their beds-present risks of serious injury and death. According to the National Consumer Voice, the elderly have gotten trapped in the gap between the bed rails and the mattress resulting in strangulation or asphyxiation. Moreover, if an elderly person attempts to get out of bed by climbing over the rails, they often fall to the floor hitting their head.

Pharmaceuticals pose risks

Older seniors are major consumers of prescription drugs. However, as we age our livers become less efficient at breaking down medicines and our kidneys become less efficient at excreting them. Thus, elderly people are at high risk of experiencing problems with drug therapy due to age-related changes in the body. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical products with dangerous side effects are often specifically marketed by the big drug companies to the elderly or their caregivers.

In 2013, Johnson and Johnson was ordered to pay more than $2 billion to settle criminal and civil claims pertaining to its marketing of the drug Risperdal. Risperdal was heavily marketed to nursing homes and doctors for the treatment of dementia in the elderly-a use for which the drug was not approved. Risperdal caused dangerous side effects in the elderly such as heart failure and strokes.

In early 2009, pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly pled guilty to illegally marketing Zyprexa for an unapproved use by the elderly. Nursing homes were apparently convinced by Eli Lilly to use Zyprexa to sedate elderly patients thereby reducing the nursing time needed to properly attend to them. However, Zyprexa was especially risky for the elderly since it could cause heart failure and pneumonia.

Bringing suit for injuries

The elderly are among our nation's most vulnerable citizens. If you have a loved one who is elderly and who sustained injury due to a suspected defective product, do not hesitate to call an attorney. An attorney experienced in handling products liability cases can investigate the matter and inform you of your options for seeking compensation.