Polypharmacy popular in older adults

It's becoming more popular for older adults to be taking more medicines daily—with unnecessary and even harmful effects.

Almost half of over-65s in England are taking at least five different drugs a day, a Cambridge University study has found.

U of H School of Pharmacy Professor Rajender Aparasu says it's very common in that age group.

“Elderly patients have multiple conditions which require multiple medications, so that is one of the major factors. The other factor is that these elderly patients are visiting multiple physicians, so they are being taken care of by providers who are prescribing medications for different conditions,” said Aparasu.

He said it's critical for elderly patients to have conversations with their pharmacists and primary care provider on a regular basis.

“To have a medication review session to make sure that they are getting the needed medication and they are not getting medications which are going to react with each other. They need to manager their medication therapy,” said Aparasu.

He said some elderly patients might be taking medications that they don't need—or were prescribed long ago. This increases the dangers of interactions between different drugs.

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