Polypharmacy in the Older Adult: Too Much of a Good Thing Essay

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Polypharmacy in the Older Adult: Too Much of a Good Thing
Elderly patients that take several medications compound the risk of developing an adverse drug reaction. Not only does the aging process have an effect on how elderly bodies process medication, but elderly people take more medications than their younger counterparts. According to Conry (2005), the elderly patient takes an average of 5 prescription medications and two non-prescription medications (Conry, 2005). While medications are frequently necessary to enhance the quality of life of the elderly, non-pharmacologic methods should be used whenever possible. Healthcare providers need to understand how aging impacts the body’s response to medications, which drugs pose more risk to
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As well as using multiple physicians, elderly clients may use more than one pharmacy. Each pharmacy attempting oversight of the client’s medication use may not be aware of all the medications prescribed.
To further complicate the issue, side effects of medication can mimic disease symptoms. If an elderly client develops side effects of medication use, the healthcare provider may not recognize it. They may erroneously think that the new symptoms are a new problem, and prescribe more medication to control the symptoms his can cause even more side effects.
Effects of Aging Physiologic effects of the aging process change the way the body processes drugs. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are both influenced by the aging process. Pharmacokinetics involves how the body interacts with the drug, and pharmacodynamics describes the effect of the drug on the body (Adams, Holland Jr., & Urban, 2011).
Pharmacokinetics consists of three components, absorption, distribution, and clearance. Absorption, especially from the oral route is the least influenced by the aging process and slows down, but remains complete (Adams et al., 2011). As the number of drugs ingested increases, the risk that absorption is interrupted increases (Adams et al., 2011). Distribution is significantly impacted with age. Older people have more body fat and less water than younger people. As a result, a drug that is fat soluble will remain in older bodies
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