Monitoring medication use in older people

Published on : 29 November 20212 min reading time

In France, more than 90% of people over the age of 80 take an average of ten tablets of medication per day. Prescriptions are therefore very often too long and increase the risk of accidents linked to excessive consumption of medicines by the elderly and dependent people.
Many geriatricians point to the risk of drug-related accidents and side effects that could easily be avoided. A study and statistics have shown that people over 80 years of age take an average of 5 different medicines per day, and 10 tablets or capsules, which would mean a doubling of consumption compared to the 1990s. It has been proven that beyond three or four molecules taken together, we no longer know how they metabolise, i.e. how they react. And, above all, if five or more drugs are taken, the risk of a drug accident increases considerably. At present, this phenomenon affects 80% of patients over the age of 80. It is true that the number of drugs prescribed to the very old, especially the dependent elderly, has increased significantly over the last ten years. This is due to the fact that people are also living longer. In particular, there are more survivors of cardiovascular accidents. After a heart attack, it is easy to leave the hospital with a prescription for five drugs. However, some geriatricians believe that there is room for improvement. Faced with very old and dependent people, weakened and often senile with a short life expectancy, it is essential to keep only the really essential drugs. Seniors over 60 years of age have a high consumption of anti-hypertensives or antidepressants. In addition, seniors tend to consult specialists more often, which does not make the task of the general practitioner, who is supposed to sort out the various medications, any easier. The latter must be able to stratify the risks and be able to tell a patient that a treatment is being withdrawn, temporarily or permanently, because it is being taken as a preventive measure and not to treat an established pathology. This is the case with antihypertensive drugs, for example: hypertension is a risk factor, not a disease. Treatment can be suspended for 15 days. But the French are known to be heavy consumers of medicines and have their own habits, so to speak, and doctors often find it difficult to get them to accept a purified version of their old prescription.

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