As we age, we often take more and more medications to manage the symptoms of arising health issues. Polypharma, or taking multiple prescriptions to manage just one health issue, is becoming an epidemic among elderly people. The risks associated with taking multiple medications can seriously affect an elderly person’s health. Polypharmacy can be hard to spot as it typically happens when elderly people are prescribed medications by different, independent healthcare providers. According to the National Library of Medicine, 44% of men and 57% of women age 65+ take over 5 medications weekly and 43% of elderly people with cancer take over 10 medications. Additionally, 5% – 7% of hospitalizations result from adverse drug reactions.
What causes polypharma?
- Doctors and patients have conflicting opinions on treatment
- Elderly people might be dealing with memory loss or diseases like Alzheimer’s
- Individuals may use over the counter drugs to treat the side effects of prescriptions
- People visit multiple doctors and clinicians and receive many prescriptions
How can you prevent it?
- Bring all your medications to your doctor appointments for them to review
- Request clear, written instructions to accompany all medications
- Ask for drugs that have better or fewer side effects
- Have a clear understanding of prescribed regimens and drug schedules
Taking multiple medications can lead to complications and adverse health effects. However, reviewing medications with your health care provider can ensure you’re taking the proper combination. Always consult with your doctor before starting or stopping any medication.
ElderServe’s HomeCare program can provide medication reminders, among many other services, for more information, call 502.583.8012.
ElderServe’s Adult Day Health Center has a full-time nurse on staff to care for seniors with health issues, including diabetes and dementia. Our nurse can check blood pressure and blood sugar, give medication, and handle emergencies. For more information, call 502.776.3066.