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Polypharmacy in Older Adults Teaching Module

This PowerPoint teaching module gives definitions, demographics and risks associated with polypharmacy, i.e. the use of multiple drugs, and the use of more medication than is clinically indicated or warranted. Also discussed are: the impact of medication metabolism, the accumulation of side effects, adverse drug reactions, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, Beers criteria for potentially inappropriate medications for elders, medication non-adherence and contributing factors, vitamin and herbal use. Social work implications and interventions to reduce polypharmacy are explored. Additional readings and resources offered in this module include:

  • Top 10 Tips for Reducing the Risks of Polypharmacy gives a list of top 10 tips useful when working with elders.
  • Reasons for Polypharmacy which lists polypharmacy issues that can arise from varying factors, and ways to minimize polypharmacy.
  • Patient Education which contains a medication chart for patients to keep track of medications, prescribers, and reasons for use, when to take and special concerns or notes regarding the medications. It is meant to be taken to doctor visits to help elders and the doctor to track medication use.

Advanced Competencies Addressed in this Module:

  • Use educational strategies to provide older persons and their families with information related to wellness and disease management (e.g., medication management)
  • Understand the effects and interactions of multiple chronic conditions, medication, nutrition, and sudden or on-going causes of changes in cognitive states and functional capacity
  • Develop and implement service plans to assist older adults with health issues and difficulties in physical functioning