For this medicine cabinet audit I selected my grandmother, who is 75 years old while she requires specialized geriatric care and attention, she reports that she is strong enough to take care of herself as long as she continues to take her medications correctly. Due to her old age she has developed hypertension and given that the family has a history of stroke she reported to be on losartan-hydrochlorothiazide (Losartan-H) that was prescribed to control her blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Due to the blood pressure she frequently has headaches and at times migraines and to treat these she has Aspirin and Ibuprofen for the mild the mild headaches and Excedrin Migraine for the migraines which are all OTC drugs. She also reported to experience occasional joint pains characterized by joint stiffness and pains especially on the knees during cold weather and to manage these she has Celecoxib a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed by her GP. Finally, she reported to be taking Cordyceps Sinensis to boost her energy and over the counter vitamin A tablets and protein supplements.
My grandmother is on eight (8) different medications and these include; Losartan-H (antihypertensive), Aspirin and Ibuprofen, Excedrin Migraine, celecoxib (NSAID), Cordyceps Sinensis, vitamin A tablets, and protein supplements. From this concoction of medications and supplements, my grandmother is at great risk of polypharmacy. By definition, polypharmacy describes individuals taking multiple drugs. It also refers to the prescription of multiple medications to one individual (Duerden, Avery, & Payne, 2013). From this definition alone, she is at high risk of polypharmacy.
In addition, according to Health Research Funding, polypharmacy is more likely to occur among elderly aged 65 years, and above as at this age individuals are highly likely to be administered multiple drugs to assist with a wide range of medical issues experienced in old age (HealtResearchFunding.org, 2013). Statistics indicate that approximately 14 prescriptions on average are taken by individuals aged between 65 and 69 years old and 18 for those aged between 80 and 85 years. This makes my grandmother to be at increased of polypharmacy.
Due to her multiple conditions that are age related, she experiences multiple pains and she may use the wrong medication to treat different pains just to feel relief. Moreover, her denial that she needs specialized care and may also hamper her adherence to the prescribed medications that may worsen her ailments and result to, even more, prescription and OTC medication.
Duerden, M., Avery, T., & Payne, R. (2013). Polypharmacy and Medicines Optimisation: Making it Safe and Sound (2nd ed.). (A. Brown, Ed.) London: King’s Fund.
HealtResearchFunding.org. (2013, September 3). 12 Incredible Polypharmacy Statistics. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from HealtResearchFunding.org: http://healthresearchfunding.org/polypharmacy-statistics/