1 March 2019
By Stephen Wiblin, Head of Clinical Strategy and Development
Nearly two-thirds of people aged 75 years or over take five or more medicines. This is known as polypharmacy which, when broken down, is simply “poly” or Greek for “many” and “pharmacy” which is derived from the Greek word “pharakon” meaning drug.
Polypharmacy is associated with an increasing risk of falls and confusion and a greater chance that one or more of the medications may react with one other.
A major challenge in older people is to ensure that their use of medicines improves their health and/or quality of life and minimises any negative outcomes. In many cases, this involves reducing unnecessary medications.
It is very common in elderly people that multiple medications may be required to treat signs and symptoms of more than one condition; however, the effects of prescribed medicines for one condition must be considered in the context of their effects on other conditions, as well as the possibility that these medications may interact with one another.
Some of the intricacies and complexities around medicines, their uses and indications make medication management a challenge for many elderly people. This challenge is not lost on GPs and clinical staff who often report that a lack of evidence-based guidelines – specifically for prescribing medicines in residents with multiple chronic conditions – makes it difficult to manage a person’s medication according to their individual needs and values.
At Allity, we understand the importance of making sure that medicines are managed in the safest and most appropriate way possible. For that to happen, coordinating a relationship between us, a resident’s GP and their pharmacist is a critical step. It is vitally important to us that all our residents receive the right medication at the right time, in order to maintain their quality of life, keep them as pain free as possible and continue to care for their wellbeing.
If you want to make sure you are receiving the right medication, speaking with your GP about the number and types of medications you take is the first step. Your GP can also arrange a Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) Review, also known as a Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) which is funded by Medicare and conducted by a clinical pharmacist.
As part of our commitment to high quality and safe care, we have also recently introduced a new medication service, Thrive, in partnership with leading Australian medicines review company Ward Medication Management. This service uses DNA testing to determine the most appropriate and personalised medication regime, based on available genetic markers and enzymes. This is an exciting healthcare innovation that aims to help healthcare teams make informed and safe decisions regarding medicine choices.
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