Over the next several months, Guardian Pharmacy Atlanta plans to address Polypharmacy, and how it affects the elderly in our personal care and assisted living communities.

We will look at different medication classes that could be considered unnecessary in the majority of older adults, de-prescribing methods to teach physicians, and the potential adverse effects too many medications have on the population that we service.

According to A. Schlesinger, et. al in a 2016 study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, polypharmacy is usually defined quantitatively as the use of multiple medications, including prescriptions and over the counter drugs, alternative medicine products, and supplements.

The “cutoff” for classifying polypharmacy is usually five or more daily medications, and 10 or more is considered excessive polypharmacy.  However, the elderly population has different diseases that co-occur, and treatment guidelines recommend multidrug regimens for common disorders.   Therefore, these authors suggested that an innovative approach would be to switch from a quantitative to a qualitative method and define polypharmacy as the use of inappropriate or superfluous medicines for individuals.

Polypharmacy has been repeatedly linked to greater frequency of pharmaco-clinical and health-economic events.  A review of the outcomes of polypharmacy in nursing homes residents found an association between more drugs and risk of potentially inappropriate drug prescribing, adverse drug events, drug-drug interactions, and hospitalization.

The first step in addressing polypharmacy in our AL and PCH residents is creating awareness for all involved; the physicians, family members and the entire healthcare team in the community.  Guardian Pharmacy Atlanta has a team of pharmacists who specialize in our Geriatric population.  We are reviewing medications as soon as they are prescribed.  We answer questions and give educated suggestions to aid in the process of deprescribing.  We also have geriatric pharmacist and nurse consultants that go into the community to review medications, and try to ensure that each resident is not experiencing multiple side effects and adverse effects from too many medications.

If you have questions about our services, or would like more information about this topic, please call the pharmacy at 770-635-3301.