Seniors and Polypharmacy

Posted on May 6, 2016

Seniors and Polypharmacy

 

“Polypharmacy” refers to multiple drugs, an actual affliction for many of our seniors. According to 2015 data collected by the Kaiser Health Foundation, the typical senior (65+ years old) in the United States fills an average of 27 prescriptions per year.1 Furthermore, this estimate doesn’t include any over-the-counter drugs and supplements that they may be taking (think Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, Tums, etc.) This can be an incredible burden on their bodies, ranging from mild adverse reactions to accidental drug overdose. And counterintuitively, many of the side effects stemming from prescription drugs can be mistaken as another health condition, leading to more prescriptions! So, it can further stress their bodies, not to mention their finances.
Are you or the senior in your life at risk of polypharmacy? Risk factors to look for include: (1) taking OTC drugs, vitamins, and/or herbs, (2) using multiple pharmacies, (3) taking several prescription medications in several daily doses, (4) having poor eyesight, (5) living alone, etc.2 Communication with your prescribing physician(s) is the first step in avoiding or resolving polypharmacy.
Use all of the tools available in order to remain educated on the subjects that affect you, or the senior in your life. Start here at Senior Living University.

 

References:
1. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies (Annual per Capita by Age). State Health Facts. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/retail-rx-drugs-by-age/
2. Mercola. 1 in 5 Elderly U.S. Patients Injured by Medical Care. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/11/medical-care-injuries.aspx#_edn5