How to Be on Less Medication for Healthier Aging?

 Medicines have adverse effects on the body over prolonged usage and the use of multiple medicines can be associated with poorer outcomes. Polypharmacy is the most common in the elderly, affecting 40% of adults. Polypharmacy is the simultaneous use of multiple medications by an individual.

Countless older adults express their concerns and worries about the medications they are taking. These include:

  • The stress of coordinating a long medication list between multiple physicians
  • The sneaky feeling that some of the medications don’t seem to aid much
  • Doubting whether the prescribed medication is the right one for your condition or even you
  • Frustration for medical bills
  • Worries about side-effects
  • The stress of having so many pills to take

None of this is so good for your quality of life when getting older. Needless to say, these concerns are justified, unlike many other things people worry about.

If you have experienced the mentioned worries or someone you know, someone older is taking more than five medications, then we would like to tell you about a process that can resolve or improve those problems.

The process is known as Deprescribing and it is essential to optimize the health of an elderly.

What is Deprescribing?

Health professionals at Halo Health Care say Polypharmacy and inappropriate prescribing in older persons are associated with increased risk of falls, hospital admissions, adverse drug events, and death. Given these potential risks, it is vital to find ways to manage the care and treatment of such patients. Deprescribing is an approach towards handling Polypharmacy and unnecessary medication use.

In simple words, Deprescribing is totally the opposite of prescribing. That is, instead of adding medications to your care plan, doctors reduce the dosage or remove one or more medications.

Why is Deprescribing imperative for Healthier Aging?

Deprescribing is crucial to address in elderly people because:

  • As people get older, they tend to be prescribed more medications. A study conducted in 2015 found out that more than 40% of the older adults in the United States take five or more medications concurrently
  • Countless older adults experience unnecessary prescribing. Researchers have found out that 25%-80% of the older patients were taking potentially unnecessary prescription medication. Despite recent efforts to coach health professionals about safer medication counseling in aging, it remains common for the older adults to be prescribed medications on the Beers’ List
  • Potentially unnecessary medications increase the risk of falls and are bad for the brain. The decline in the mental abilities is the most common problem that most seniors want to avoid.
  • Seniors are more vulnerable to side-effects and harm from their medications due to their age.
  • In a survey, most older adults were found hating being on any medications.
  • It is usually safer and often possible to treat many health problems with non-pharmacological procedures.

How do Deprescribing works?

The process of Deprescribing requires the health professionals and other clinicians to follow the given steps:

#1 Creating an accurate and conversant list of all the prescribed medications an individual is currently taking:

  • The best way to do this is by asking the patient to bring all his/her medications they are currently taking and reviewing the bottles.
  • Doctors should avoid trusting the medication list they have on the computer or chart. These lists are often outdated and inaccurate, particularly when the senior is seeing multiple doctors.

#2 Review the reason each medication has been prescribed:

  • Clinicians should consider whether this medication, in particular, is in the best interest of the patient.
  • Patients and doctor together should review whether the medication is providing any symptom relief.
  • It is essential to consider if the potential benefit is a good fit for the patient’s health condition and values.


#3 Review whether the prescribed medication is likely to cause harm or to be risky to the patient:

For seniors, the doctors should pay special attention to the prescribed medications known to be risky in older adults including the ones from the Beers’ List.

#4 Study whether safer alternatives are available:

It is always safe and often possible to treat a given health condition with non-pharmacological alternatives, or with medications that are less precarious for seniors.


#5 Reduce dosage or discontinue medication when possible:

In most cases, medication requires tapering process in which its dosage is lowered over time.

Please note that Deprescribing is something that always requires the aid of a health professional. So don’t think it is something that you can do for yourself.

When should Deprescribing be considered?

Good practice requires the regular review of the patient’s medications. These reviews are a great time to contemplate Deprescribing.

What are the consequences of Deprescribing?

There are potential benefits and harms in Deprescribing, similar to all medical interventions. The possible outcomes following Deprescribing may include:

  • No noticeable change in the medical status
  • Resolution of particular adverse drug reactions
  • Improvement in functions and quality of life
  • Withdrawal syndromes
  • Rebound syndromes
  • The reappearance of signs and symptoms of the original disease

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