Polypharmacy in the Elderly: the Need for Concern and Strategies for its Control

Polypharmacy in the Elderly: the Need for Concern and Strategies for its Control

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Author(s): ABDULRAHEEM Ibraheem Shola, Adeoye Adegboye

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DOI: 10.18483/ijSci.745 532 1137 11-18 Volume 4 - Jul 2015


In the last three decades, problems related to aging, multi-morbidity, and polypharmacy have become a prominent issue in global healthcare. In this study, Polypharmacy is defined as a concomitant use of five or more drugs simultaneously and/or the administration of more medications than are clinically indicated, representing unnecessary drug use. The purpose of this study was to describe and quantify the magnitude of polypharmacy, analyze the factors associated with this practice among elderly and suggest control measures for its reduction. Other objectives include creating awareness about the risks of multiple drug use in ageing population and propose practical recommendations/interventions regarding rational drug use for elderly age groups. Materials for this study were obtained from a search of the MEDLINE database and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts to identify articles in people aged 60 years and above. A combination of the search terms like polypharmacy, multiple medications, polymedicine, elderly, geriatric, and aged were used. This study found out that polypharmacy is a common problem and a known risk factor for important morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Many medications are associated with negative health outcomes, but more research is needed to delineate the consequences associated with unnecessary drug use in elderly patients. Health care professionals should be aware of the risks associated with polypharmacy and fully evaluate all medications at each patient visit in order to prevent polypharmacy from occurring.


Polypharmacy, Elderly, Strategies, Concern, Control


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