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Polypharmacy in older people: A guide for healthcare professionals

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes polypharmacy as a major global problem and has set a global safety challenge to avoid medicine-related harm. Patients being prescribed a higher number of medications has been associated with an increased risk of harm and is a strong predictor of hospitalisation due to adverse drug events. Therefore, assessing polypharmacy and patient adherence to medication is imperative.

The following guide has been created in order to help support medicines optimisation in older patients who may be subject to inappropriate polypharmacy, and includes practical guides for stopping the following groups of medications:

  • Antihypertensives
  • Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs
  • Oral corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Acid suppressants
  • Opioids in non-cancer pain
  • Gabapentinoids in neuropathic pain
  • Antipsychotics to treat non-cognitive symptoms of dementia
  • Acetylcholine esterase inhibitors and memantine in dementia
⇩ Polypharmacy in older people: A guide for healthcare professionals 444KB (PDF)

(March 2023)

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