Elderly patients that take several medications compound the risk of developing an adverse drug reaction. Not only does the aging process have an effect on how elderly bodies process medication, but elderly people take more medications than their younger counterparts. According to Conry (2005), the elderly patient takes an average of 5 prescription medications and two non-prescription medications (Conry, 2005). While medications are frequently necessary to enhance the quality of life of the elderly, non-pharmacologic methods should be used whenever possible. Healthcare providers need to understand how aging impacts the body’s response to medications, which drugs pose more risk to elderly patients, how to recognize drug related problems, and most importantly how to prevent adverse events.
Causes of Polypharmacy
Polypharmacy among elderly clients occurs for a variety of reasons. There are more drugs now available to treat specific diseases and symptoms than ever before. New discoveries that have lead to new, more effective medications for patients have helped patients in many ways (Bender, 2005). Unfortunately, these discoveries have also fueled inappropriate use of and overuse of medication. Drugs that used to be prescriptions are now readily available over the counter. Also, the use of complementary and alternative herbs is becoming more popular.
Not only does the amount of medication available contribute to polypharmacy, so does the fact that elderly patients are more likely to have multiple health disorders. People over the age of 65 are more likely to have several chronic conditions that require one or more medications to manage (Conry, 2005). When elderly patients ...
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...N., & Urban, C. Q. (2011). Pharmacology for nurses: a pathophysiologic approach. In . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Bender, K. J. (2005). Medication developments for diseases of the elderly. Geriatric Times, 1(1). Retrieved from http://www.cmellc.com/geriatrictimes/g000637.html
Caskie, G. I., & Willis, S. L. (2004). Congruence of self-reported medications with pharmacy prescription records in low-income older adults. Gerontologist, 44(2). Retrieved from
Conry, M. (2005). Polypharmacy: pandora’s medicine chest . Geriatric Times, 1(3). Retrieved from http://www.cmellc.com/geriatrictimes/g001028.html
Fick, D. M., Cooper, J. W., Wade, W. E., Waller, J. L., MacLean, J. R., & Beers, M. H. (2004). Updating the beers criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults: results of a us consensus panel of experts. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163.
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