What are the commonly used medications in nursing homes?

Common Nursing home medications

When providers and nurses start working in the nursing home setting, they frequently ask what common medications are prescribed to the elderly?

Just like most health care settings, common medications appear frequently. If you work for a GI practice you will start to see similarities in medication prescribing habits. The same goes for nursing homes.

There may be some differences based on regions or by the marketing efforts of the pharmaceutical companies. However, they will usually be from the same medication class.

The following list is not a definitive list and is only meant to be used as a guide. There are many drug guides that can better assist you in learning about the medications.

Covid-19 added a couple of medications to the list. Prescribes will often prescribe steroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone. Azithromycin has been frequently prescribed when they are having respiratory symptoms requiring an antibiotic.

Symbicort or other inhaled steroid combo is given with patients having respiratory issues with Covid-19. Nursing homes have moved away from nebulizers such as Albuterol and Duonebs and switched to MDI devices for the delivery of medication.

There was a period where Plaquenil/hydroxychloroquine sulfate was prescribed for the residents. However, this medication isn’t used commonly for the treatment of coronavirus.

If you are a nurse looking for a great drug guide, Amazon carries the Nursing 2022 Drug handbook. This is your best source for information on specific medications.

Commonly seen medications in Nursing home

Ace Inhibitors:

  • Lisinopril

Alpha Agonist:

  • Clonidine


  •  Amoxicillin
  • Augmentin
  • Azithromycin
  • Bactrim
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Gentamycin
  • Levaquin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Vancomycin
  • Cefpodoxime proxetil (Vantin)


  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
  • Heparin
  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)


  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Citalopram
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)


  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)


  • Fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Nystatin swish and swallow


  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)


  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)

Anxiolytics (Benzodiazepine):

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)    
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)


  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Cardiac Medications:


  • Coreg
  • Metoprolol Tartrate and succinate

Calcium Channel Blockers:

  • Norvasc


  • Cardizem
  • Digoxin
  • Isosorbide mononitrate (angina)
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Plavix (Acute Coronary syndrome and Thrombotic prevention)

Dementia Medications:

  • Namenda
  • Exelon

Diabetic Medications:

  • Basaglar
  • Humalog
  • Januvia
  • Humalog
  • Lantus
  • Novolog
  • Metformin/Glucophage (Biguanides)
  • Tresiba
  • Trulicity


  • Lasix
  • Spironolactone
  • Zaroxalyn

GI medications:

  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza)
  • Bisacodyl suppositories
  • Colace
  • Fleets enemas
  • Linzess (Linaclotide)
  • Lactulose
  • Ondansetron (Zofran)
  • Ranitidine (H2 Blocker)
  • Senna

Gout Medications:

  • Allopurinol
  • Colchicine

Insomnia medications:

  • GABA/Benzodiazepine: Ambien (zolpidem0
  • Benzodiazepine: Restoril
  • Melatonin

Kidney Medications:

  • Renagel
  • Phoslo

Muscle relaxers:

  • Baclofen
  • Flexeril
  • Tizanidine

Neurological medications:

  • Gabapentin (seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia)
  • Pregabalin (lyrica)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications:

  • Celebrex
  • Ibuprofen


  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone/tylenol (Norco)
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxycodone
  • Tramadol (MU opioid receptor)
  • MS Contin

Parkinson’s meds:

  • Carbidopa levodopa

Proton Pump Inhibitors:

  • Omeprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Dexilant

Respiratory Medications:

  • Albuterol nebs/HFA,
  • Beta-2 Agonist, SABAs, Muscarinic Antagonist: Duoneb
  • Prednisone
  • Tiotropium (Spiriva)

Seizure Medications:

  • Vimpat
  • Dilantin
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra)


  • Sarna lotion
  • Triamcinolone


  • Atorvastatin
  • Rosuvastatin

Thyroid Medications:

  • Levothyroxine
  • Synthroid

Urology Medications:

  • Oxybutynin (antispasmodics)

OTC Medications:

  • Potassium
  • Ferrous sulfate
  • Natural Tears eyedrops
  • Tylenol
  • Aspirin
  • Mucinex
  • Bengay
  • Claritin
  • Vitamin B12

Tips for learning medications

Unfortunately, learning the medications used in nursing homes requires memorization and repetition. Memorization and repetition help you learn what the meds are used for and the class they belong to. This will help when you run into other meds in the same class. You will have a general idea of adverse effects and contraindications.

Try to learn the basics and then look up the meds as you go to fine-tune your learning. Some people like to write the medications on flashcards with the drug name on one side and the basis of the medication on the other. Include the indication for the medication and then the class of medication.

If you are only able to learn one, focus on the generic version of the medication. Eventually, the medication will lose its patent and be sold in its generic form.

“Frequently Prescribed Medications: Drugs You Need to Know“ is a book that will give you tips and tricks for learning medications that are frequently used. This comprehensive resource provides clear information for the drugs that are commonly utilized in clinical practice. It even includes over-the-counter, and natural products.

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This list of medications is not meant to be an exhaustive list of medications. There will be many medications that providers prescribe that are not included. However, this list should give a general idea of what is commonly prescribed in the nursing home setting.

When you start working in the nursing home, take a few minutes to write down the medications on a few patients and look them up. The more you do this, the easier it will get to learn the medications and why they are used for the resident.

If you are a nurse looking for more information, check out the website www.nrsng.com.


I am a Family Nurse Practitioner working in the post acute setting which includes Nursing homes, Assisted living facilities. I have worked for two other companies that provided APRNs to the nursing homes and now run a company providing APRNs in this setting. I have experience with clinical, operations, and general nursing home topics. This blog is a hobby that I use to relax after a long day working in the post acute world.

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