Polypharmacy in the Elderly and the Role of a Pharmacy Consult

Polypharmacy in the Elderly Affects Medication Adherence When patients take multiple medications, medication adherence often decreases. It makes sense. Patients need to remember more medications—when to take them, how to take them and even if they’ve taken them. In addition, packaging may be harder to read, understand, or open for elderly patients. All these factors can affect med adherence.   A pharmacy consult may show ways to streamline medication to help with adherence, for example, combined medications that reduce the overall number of pills taken. In addition, choosing a pharmacy partner with daily dose packaging improves adherence as well. Read more about how Grane Rx keeps pharmacy SIMPLE and effective to improve med adherence.  

Adverse Drug Events Rise with Polypharmacy in the Elderly

When multiple medications are taken, there’s a risk of interaction between medications. The risk is especially great when patients see different doctors for different ailments. Patients often receive prescriptions from various providers who may not have complete knowledge of the patient’s other medications. Improperly prescribed medications or those taken improperly can compound problems. And sometimes side effects masquerade as symptoms, which can lead to even more medications being added to an already crowded drug regimen.   Add to that the fact that many medications affect elderly patients differently. Some medications are less effective. Others are slower to clear the body or are distributed differently throughout the body. That can lead to unexpected results. [Tweet “Too many meds? Get a pharmacy consult”]

Pharmacy Consults Reduce Risks of Polypharmacy in the Elderly

Geriatric pharmacists are trained to check for red flags in polypharmacy in the elderly. That means looking for drugs that are contraindicated. It also means checking for medications that are not recommended or have may have different different results for elderly patients. It can also mean connecting each medication to a disease or recognizing it as treating a side effect of another medication. As mentioned, pharmacists can make recommendations to increase proper medication adherence, which in turn can reduce the risks of polypharmacy as well.  

Pharmacy Consults Are Most Effective When They Happen Early

Too often pharmacy consults are reactive, occurring only after a medication issue has arisen. Ideally pharmacy consults are proactive, and they happen when a patient is admitted and again before dispensing. Reviewing medications and identifying and addressing potential problems can set a patient up for success instead of making them prone to rehospitalization. Grane Rx provides early pharmacy consults to improve patient care and reduce costs. Polypharmacy in the elderly isn’t in itself a problem. But one patient taking multiple medications can pose risks if the medications aren’t managed and taken properly. To reduce risks and improve outcomes, bring pharmacy in early for a consult, before there is a problem.]]>

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