DEAR ABBY: With the increasing concern about the problems of the aging - confusion, loss of memory, a tendency to fall, incontinence, etc. - it is encouraging to learn that research is now offering a small ray of hope. Geriatric experts are finding substantial evidence that the elderly are taking so many prescription drugs that their bodies are becoming vulnerable to the side effects.

Peter Lamy, assistant dean of geriatrics at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, states that drug-induced illness is sometimes written off and attributed to the "aging process," which not only reduces the quality of lives but can lead to senior citizens being prematurely sent to nursing homes.According to Dr. Jerry Avon, professor of social medicine at Harvard Medical School, "The efficiency of the kidney and liver can decline with age, hampering their ability to excrete drugs, which in turn can lead to a drug buildup in the body." He also said a drug dosage that was safe at age 50 can be dangerous at age 70. Also, many organs of the body (from the heart to the bladder to the brain) can undergo change in their sensitivity to medication.

Abby, please suggest that older persons (or their caregivers) "brown-bag" all their prescription and over-the-counter medications and take them to their physician or pharmacist for analysis of their CUMULATIVE EFFECT. This should include painkillers, sedatives, laxatives and vitamins. You would be doing your readers a great service. - MILLIE HAWTHORN, CONSUMER CONSULTANT, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, HARRISBURG, PA.

DEAR MS. HAWTHORN: Thank you for some valuable suggestions that could improve the quality of life - and possibly extend it. Dr. Robert N. Butler, renowned gerontologist and chairman of the Department of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, suggests that the older persons purchase all their medications from one pharmacy, so there will be a complete list of all their medications.

DEAR ABBY: After 20 years of what started out as a perfect marriage, my wife and I were divorced several years ago. The reason: My wife's rather open adulterous relationships - there were five of them that I know about. The final blow was our teenage daughter walking in on her mother and lover in our bed.

My ex has remarried and lives a thousand miles away. While the divorce was painful for me, fortunately my own life is about back to normal. However, the men involved are walking around unbruised from their part in the destruction of our marriage.

Although my religion teaches to forgive trespasses against us, I'm still torn up over it all and feel that in order to achieve complete recovery, I should write all five men a letter (signed, of course) and let them know what their part in the affairs did to me and my children. What do you think, Abby? Sign me . . . SEETHING

DEAR SEETHING: I wholeheartedly agree that expressing your feelings of anger and hostility is necessary to achieve complete recovery. And while you're in a letter-writing mood, it wouldn't hurt to write a similar letter to your ex-wife.

But now that your life is "about back to normal," the wisest way to achieve complete recovery might be to destroy the letters - unless you can also say "I forgive you," in which case you may qualify for sainthood.

DEAR ABBY: I retired at the age of 62, and at that time, I budgeted my pensions and Social Security. After taking a little out for miscellaneous expenses, I divided what was left between me and my wife right down the middle.

Five years later, when my wife of 55 years applied for her Social Security, she decided that it was all "hers."

I don't want to go into details because it would make this letter too long, but to my way of thinking, my wife's Social Security should have been thrown into the common pot.

I think my wife is being selfish. What do you think? It will probably not make any difference to my wife if you agree with me, but I would like to know for my own satisfaction because I have always respected your advice. - BROWBEATEN IN POMPANO BEACH

DEAR BROWBEATEN: After 55 years of togetherness, I think you are being more than fair to your wife. And yes, I agree with you - your wife is selfish. (I hope this letter doesn't start World War III at your house.)

CONFIDENTIAL TO SALLY McC. IN DETROIT: The best advice I can give you is in my booklet titled "How to Have a Lovely Wedding":

"See your doctor (preferably a gynecologist) for a physical checkup and authoritative answers to all your questions before marriage.

"Motherly advice from Aunt Liz or `tips' from one of the girls is fine, but before a bride keeps her date with the preacher, she should keep one with her doctor."

1990 Universal Press Syndicate