For many older persons, multiple medication use is the norm.
What is Polypharmacy?
Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medications at one time, and is a very common problem associated with medication use among older adults and those with disabilities.
More Medication=More Problems
Research has even shown that the more medications a person takes, the greater the risk of experiencing a medication-related problem. This is not a new theme gentle readers.
To best manage chronic diseases often requires the use of multiple medications. Diseases like Heart Failure, Parkinson’s, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Arthritis, Pulmonary (lung), and Dementia can require more than one medication for the best results. Both the older adult and caregiver must consider the appropriateness, effectiveness, and safety of all prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Questions to ask physicians/nurses/physician assistants/ and pharmacists:
1. Is this medication most appropriate for the condition considering other diseases present?
2. Is it absolutely needed?
3. Can it be started at the lowest dose?
4. What are interactions with other drugs or over-the-counter supplements?
5. Considering the other diseases present, can this drug be taken properly?
6. What is the best way for all treating health care providers communicate about this medication list?
Avoid Medication Problems
An important part of care giving and senior advocacy is asking the right questions. Become more active in the life of your Elder to help avoid medication related problems. More importantly, your knowledge can contribute to their wellness and safety during this vulnerable time in a senior’s life.