Many Retirees Using Medications Inappropriately

September 20, 2016 in Our News & Bulletins by Brio Home Health and Hospice


New research finds that the majority of retirees are under using (67%) or misusing (56%) prescription medications, or both. Only 17% were not affected by any kind of underuse or misuse. Furthermore, study authors say that each medication that is underused is associated with a 39% increase in risk of death and a 26% increase in risk of hospitalization, while the association with misusing medications was less clear.


Researchers analyzed the prescription drug use of over 500 adults over a period of 18 months. The average age of the participants was 84. Over half (58%) of the participants were taking five or more medications daily.


Lead author Maarten Wauters explains, “Taking too many medications or unsafe medications are known to cause adverse health outcomes; however, we have shown that not taking essential, beneficial medications is more frequent and can be more strongly associated with negative outcomes.”


This study adds to a large body of scientific evidence and confirms that medication discrepancies are an ongoing challenge in healthcare. Our home health services can be an essential resource any time new medications are prescribed to retirees. Our home health nurses can visit the homes of patients multiple times; make sure the meds prescribed are the meds being taken; make sure all doctors involved know what every other doctor prescribed; really take time to teach medications adherence to patients and caregivers; and then follow-up with our patients to make sure everything is going well.


Source: Wauters M, Elseviers M, Vaes B, et al. Too many, too few, or too unsafe? Impact of inappropriate prescribing on mortality, and hospitalisation in a cohort of community-dwelling oldest old. Br J Clin Pharmacol, DOI: 10.1111/bcp.13055, published online 18 July 2016.

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