FAQ: What Is Polypharmacy In The Elderly?

Polypharmacy is defined as increase in the number of medications or the use of more medications than are medically necessary. Polypharmacy is common in older ambulatory care, hospital, and nursing home patients. Polypharmacy increases the risk of numerous negative health consequences in the elderly.

What is considered polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy, defined as regular use of at least five medications, is common in older adults and younger at-risk populations and increases the risk of adverse medical outcomes. There are several risk factors that can lead to polypharmacy.

What is an example of polypharmacy?

An example of a polypharmacy definition which recognised the use of appropriate and inappropriate medications is “polypharmacy ranges from the use of a large number of medications, to the use of potentially inappropriate medications, medication underuse and duplication ” and “potentially inappropriate medications” [114]

What are risks of polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy is associated with increases in many adverse outcomes including adverse drug reactions, drug to drug interactions, drug to disease interactions, non‐adherence, falls, cognitive impairment, hospital admission and mortality [4, 12, 26].

Why is polypharmacy a problem in the elderly?

Polypharmacy is an area of concern for elderly because of several reasons. Elderly people are at a greater risk for adverse drug reactions (ADRs) because of the metabolic changes and reduced drug clearance associated with ageing; this risk is furthermore exacerbated by increasing the number of drugs used.

How do you address a polypharmacy in the elderly?

Polypharmacy, especially in the elderly, can be addressed through several strategies. Pharmacists need to identify drug-related problems, prioritize them, reduce pill burden, eliminate unnecessary medication usage, and monitor for adverse drug-withdrawal events.

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How do you identify polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy is recognised by an assessment: on admission; at any time the resident’s condition changes; when a new medicine is ordered; or when the resident is taking nine or more medicines.

Why does polypharmacy happen?

Polypharmacy can be caused by a variety of factors including: Self-medicating without an accurate understanding of effects and reactions. Patients being prescribed multiple medications by health professionals who are not aware of other parties involved.

What is polypharmacy in nursing?

Polypharmacy refers to the prescribing of many medicines for one individual. Polypharmacy is increasingly common as a result of the rise in multimorbidity, use of evidence-based clinical guidelines and care pathways, and a focus on disease prevention.

How common is polypharmacy in the elderly?

It is potentially problematic because it can lead to serious adverse events. Previous studies have shown that, on average, polypharmacy affects between 40% and 50% of all older adults.

What can be done about polypharmacy?

Conducting medication reconciliations at care transition, eliminating duplicate medications, assessing for drug-drug interactions, and reviewing dosages can reduce the incidence of polypharmacy, ensure patient safety, reduce hospitalizations, and decrease associated costs.

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