Preventing Polypharmacy in Older Adults

Kathleen Woodruff MS, CRNP


Am Nurs Journal. 2010;5(10) 

In This Article

Poor Adherence to the Medication Regimen

Poor adherence to the medication regimen is an ongoing problem among older adults. Although most patients are motivated to take their medications as prescribed, some may fail to comply due to lack of understanding, confusion, or simple forgetfulness. In other cases, prescribers may advise a patient to cut tablets in half to lower the dosage—but this task may be difficult or impossible for elderly patients with decreased vision or poor manual dexterity.

Also, some patients may attribute unpleasant symptoms to a medication and, without consulting the prescriber, decrease the dosage or even stop taking the drug. Those with visual deficits may have difficulty reading the prescription label. Patients with financial problems or who live on fixed incomes may decide to take lower-than-prescribed dosages to extend their supply—or they may not fill a prescription at all.