The Dangers of Polypharmacy

Polypharmacy, defined as the use of five or more medications, is associated with a number of risks, including adverse drug reactions, falls, and poor compliance with medical advice. Polypharmacy is a special risk in seniors, since they comprise just 13% of the population while accounting for 33% of all prescription medications and 40% of the usage of over-the-counter medications. Moreover, as people live longer, they often develop other chronic conditions, which can lead to the poor outcomes associated with polypharmacy.

How can one avoid risk when taking multiple medications? Follow these 3 tips:

1. Maintain a complete and accurate list of every medication, including supplements

Adverse drug reactions don’t only occur with prescription medications. Over-the-counter medications and vitamin or herb supplements can also interact with each other or with prescription medications. In addition, any type of medication or supplement may be contraindicated for certain chronic conditions. For example, if someone is on an anticoagulant, colloquially known as a blood thinner, they need to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, all of which increase the chance of bleeding.

By keeping a complete, up-to-date list of every medication, however insignificant that medication may appear, an older person can more easily avoid adverse drug interactions. But keeping the list is not enough: the list should be shared with every health care provider the person sees.

2. Use one pharmacy for all prescriptions

Pharmacists are trained to look for drug interactions. But they can only do it if they know what medications a person is taking. But 40% of seniors use more than one pharmacy for their prescriptions, making this task all but impossible.

To ensure the best outcomes, a person should only use one pharmacy, and share their medication list with the pharmacist.

3. Conduct regular medication reviews

A review of medication should take place monthly, as well as after every provider visit. There are several tools available for reviewing medications, including the Beers criteria, the Screening Tool of Older Persons Potentially inappropriate Prescriptions (STOPP), and the Screening Tool to Alert doctors to the Right Treatments (START). These tools help identify medications that interact with each other, or are unnecessary, redundant, or contraindicated for use in the elderly population.

At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Keansburg, NJ, keeping proper track of medications is just a small part of the care we take to ensure our residents are healthy and happy. Our residents receive the highest quality rehabilitative and skilled nursing care in a homelike and compassionate environment conducive to healing.

Our family -owned and -operated 123-bed facility, is tucked away in the quiet beach town of Keansburg, NJ at the Jersey Shore, within sight of Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline.

Our services include short-term rehab, long-term care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice care, and respite care for those times when the caretaker needs to be taken care of.

We proudly provide the following specialty healthcare services: Complex Medical Care Management, Intravenous (IV) Therapy, Wound Care, Enteral Feeding, Pain Management, Oxygen Therapy, Tracheostomy Care, a Dedicated Pulmonary Program, Hospice Care with private suites, a Stroke Rehab Program, Respiratory Support, Eye Care, Dental Care, Podiatrist, Psychological Consults and Counseling.

We pride ourselves on healing the entire patient through a holistic and individualized approach.

Our meticulous care planning helps us ensure that each and every resident receives the best in clinical care, support and unconditional love.

For over 25 years, we have been a staple of health and wellness, serving the members of our community and partnering with our local hospitals like Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, NJ and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, NJ.

We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.

Read our reviews on, wellness.comand to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.

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