Pharmacotherapy Considerations in Elderly Adults

James M. Wooten, PharmD

Disclosures

South Med J. 2012;105(8):437-445. 

In This Article

Polypharmacy

Polypharmacy may be defined as the number of medications (eg, using a large number of different medications prescribed by different providers), the necessity of the medications that are prescribed, or the complexity of a patient's problems. Whatever the definition, polypharmacy is an important issue in elderly patients. Sometimes this issue cannot be helped, but many times polypharmacy occurs simply because healthcare providers fail to communicate proper patient recommendations to the patient's primary care provider. If each patient had a primary healthcare advocate who coordinated the patient's overall care, then the risk of polypharmacy could be reduced. Effective communication between all of a patient's healthcare providers is key to eliminating this problem. One simple recommendation is to ask every patient to bring all of his or her current medications to each doctor's visit so that the physician can thoroughly review the medications being taken.[1,2,5,6]

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