Polypharmacy In The Elderly
by Trino Medina, RPh
Doctors Renaissance Hospital Clinical Pharmacist, CVS Clinical Pharmacist
published July 2017
I took my mom to her cardiologist today
and he gave her a clean bill of health! I was
so happy to hear him say how healthy this 88
year woman and that her heart was strong.
I brought up my concern to him about my
mom taking too many medications. She
takes pills for her heart, her diabetes, and
her pain. Can we reduce the amount of pills
she takes each day?
Polypharmacy is the practice of prescribing
many different medications for the
same condition to the same patient. My
mom has consistently been a subject of this
practice. I have vowed to help her and the
many patients out there to try and reduce
the amount of pills they take. Starting with
the heart pills, my mom takes an aspirin a
day to help reduce blood clotting. This one
we were not able to remove. She also takes
diltiazem, metoprolol and isosorbide for
her heart. Working with the cardiologist we
were able to remove the diltiazem and the
isosorbide only leaving the metoprolol.
She takes celecoxib, tramadol and acetaminophen
for pain and inflammation.
Talking with the pain doctor, we removed
the celexocib and replaced it with diclofenac.
We then added gabapentin to replace
the tramadol. Tramadol makes my mom too
groggy and susceptible to falls.
to leave the acetaminophen arthritis for
now until further evaluation. We have yet
to visit the endocrinologist on her diabetes
medications, but I have a good feeling we
can cut down on one of those two.
As you can see, polypharmacy happens
because the primary physician sends out his
patients to the different specialists who then
prescribe different medications for their
area of expertise. Each one is cognizant of
all the meds but don't alter treatment for
It is up to the patient or
family member working closely with the
primary physician to try to evaluate each
ailment and share with the specialist where
the patient is at in the different illness.
I am in no way advocating anyone removing
or altering any medication regimens on
their own, but rather work with all of your
doctors on a better way of treating your ailments,
other than polypharmacy.