What’s in This Pillbox? Helping Prevent Polypharmacy Among Seniors

Risk factors of polypharmacy

While medications play a critical role in the management of chronic conditions for older adults, studies show that individuals with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obstructive pulmonary disease and even depression are more likely to experience both polypharmacy and excessive polypharmacy because of the interactions of multiple medications over time. Other risk factors include if patients take high-risk medications, seek care from multiple doctors, fulfill prescriptions at more than one pharmacy, or if they’re unaware of the dosage, interactions, or side effects of their medications.

The dangers of polypharmacy

In the past 20 years, there has been an estimated 200% increase in polypharmacy. Every day, 750 people age 65 and older are hospitalized for an adverse drug event from one or more medications, according to a 2019 report by the Lown Institute. That same report says that over the past 10 years, older adults sought medical interventions more than 35 million times for adverse drug effects (such as falls, heart failure, and even cognitive impairment), leading to more than 2 million hospital admissions.

How person-centered care at Brookdale helps address medication overuse

Before a patient becomes a resident, we conduct a personal service assessment (PSA) to better understand each person’s unique health needs, including medications. The results from this initial assessment will inform a customized Personal Service Care Plan, a care plan we implement in collaboration with primary care clinicians throughout the resident’s stay. This partnership supports coordination of everything from medications to upcoming appointments and much more.

Clinical oversight helps prevent polypharmacy.

Once they join our community, we closely monitor residents for changes in condition and keep physicians informed so that appropriate adjustments can be made in the care plan. Brookdale clinical staff members are trained on effective medication management and recognizing undue side effects. They will notify you if they suspect a potential issue.

Tools and technology enable care coordination.

Brookdale staff use tools to maintain high-quality standards and minimize the use of psychotropic drugs. Our electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR) is linked to a Brookdale Preferred Pharmacy Provider, which means one primary pharmacy specializing in senior care is integrated with our electronic health record system (PointClickCare). Not only do our Preferred Pharmacy Providers allow for greater efficiencies and safety, they provide consultant pharmacists specially trained in drug therapy for the senior population.

At Brookdale, we facilitate care coordination with physicians to help prevent polypharmacy. Let’s work together and help your patients too. To find out more about our approach to medication management, contact a Brookdale representative today.

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