A lot of elderly suffer from different types of chronic diseases e.g. hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases etc. They may also encounter different acute illnesses at different point of time, e.g. flu, gastroenteritis. As a result, they may be prescribed a lot of different medicines from different medical practitioners and they are required to take more than 10 or even 20 medicines every day.
Don’t think such load of medicines can cure or control illnesses. In fact, they may be contradict to each other or have overlapping results. For example, some anti-allergy drug may lead to dizziness and if the patient is already taking sleeping pills, excessive inhibition of central nervous system may happen. Taking anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory painkiller together may increase the chance of gastric hemorrhage.
When elderly is prescribed excessive amount of medicines, not only the effect and side effects are in doubt, elderly’s emotion can be affected as well. They may think that they are very sick. This may lead to depression and they may no longer take medicine on time. This will then further deteriorate their health condition.
To prevent polypharmacy, doctor should know what medicine elderly is already on and what kind of illnesses elderly already have, so that they will prescribe proper medicine that will not contradict to or overlap with existing medication.
On the other hand, we can make proper changes to elderly life styles like diet, exercise, sleep so as to address symptoms of illnesses and more importantly improve elderly’s health condition.