As we get older, we need more medications to keep us going. These are added in one at a time and build up over the years.
How many medications do you take now? When was the last time someone designated time to review the dose of all your medications and whether there was an ongoing need for the medication still? It may be that some of the medications can be reduced or eliminated now that the acute episode or reason for starting the medication has passed. It may be that other medications were added to combat side effects of another medication. There may be alternative medications that could be used without these side effects.
The PBS budget indicates that people over the age of 65 years old use 66% of all medications prescribe. This indicates that most of the medications we consume occurs in the latter part of life. One in four people are taking more than five medications already. Most people complain that they rattle in the mornings after their polypharmacy, or they can get muddled as to the timing or if they have remembered all their medications today. There are devices to assist you if needed so you can maintain your independence and control over your medications but firstly let’s make sure you need all the medications.
As you get older, your kidney and liver slow down leading to less effective clearance and breakdown processes of the metabolites and toxic waste products from medications. Drug interactions can also occur when taking multiple medications leading to side effects. Some of these include: muscle wasting, dizziness, memory loss, dry mouth, fluid retention and electrolyte imbalance to name a few common side effects. Dose modifications and yearly reviews can identify these issues and decrease the risk for you.
30% of hospital visits are due to adverse drug reactions with 50% of these being preventable. There are many reasons for this: A change in the brand of medication, a change in dosing, a double up of medications, missed doses perhaps, interactions between medications, pharmacy error, doctor error, and human error. There can be potentially a lot of ill health from medications that were meant to keep you well. We can prioritize your medications and identify those that are essential and those we can potentially cease, modify, or alter with your permission and in working conjunction with your GP and other specialists.
Let’s make sure you do not fall into the group of people where medications are harming your health. Your pharmacist is a great source of knowledge – so please try to stay with the one pharmacy. Your pharmacist can manage your scripts and record the reasons for the medication changes as they occur. Your GP can refer you for a pharmacy review of your medications or better still – come to Age Right and we will review these with you.