What is Polypharmacy, and How Do We Stop It?

Senior citizens take multiple prescriptions and over-the-counter meds without confirming with their healthcare team what is safe and what isn’t.

This problem has increased over the past 12 years, and put these folks at risk for dangerous side effects.

The burden of taking multiple medications has been associated with greater health care costs. For example, there is also increased risk of adverse drug events (ADEs), drug interactions, medication non-adherence, reduced functional capacity, and multiple geriatric syndromes,” says Irene Hanna (our in-house pharmacist here at Heritage).

Here are Irene’s tips to reduce polypharmacy

  1. ·         Have an accurate list of all medications (both prescription and OTC), including generic and brand names, dosages, dosing frequency, and reason for taking the drug.
  2. ·         Take all medications to your medical appointments to verify with your doctor that you taking the correct drugs.
  3. ·         Keep a complete list of medical providers and their contact information.
  4. ·         Post the name and telephone number of the local pharmacy.
  5. ·         Contact your healthcare provider with concerns or questions.
  6. ·         Always take medications exactly as directed.
  7. ·         Use only one pharmacy to obtain drugs.
  8. ·         Avoid sharing medications with others.
  9. ·         Store medications as directed.
  10. ·         Dispose of old medications properly.

For instance, if you currently take prescription medication, take time to talk to Irene Hanna. She can help you discuss any over-the-counter meds you take. As our in-house pharmacist, she will be able to make sure your medication is coordinated with your doctor. We’ll keep you up to date with our pharmacist services.

If you are helping care for someone who takes multiple medications, be sure to confirm with his or her healthcare team that all medications are compatible.

All in all, It’s easy to overlook something like polypharmacy, so make sure you have somebody on your side helping you out.

Irene Hanna, our clinical pharmacist, will help you understand your medications and options to get the most out of your medication therapy.