The multiple chronic diseases that many older adults live with every day is significant. Over 75% of older adults have more than one chronic condition. Because of this they are inevitably faced with the challenges of treating multiple conditions, almost always pharmacologically. Pharmacological treatments are often important and necessary for the well-being and continued health and maintenance of individuals with chronic and at times, acute conditions that can easily develop. The challenge that can arise with this form of treatment is the often thin-lined balance between the benefits, risks and side effects of these medications with the intent to stabilize health and well-being.
What is Polypharmacy and the Risks
Polypharmacy generally refers to the use of multiple medications that are taken, typically five or more prescribed medications, in a day. It also refers to the administration of more medications than are clinically indicated, causing unnecessary or unwanted usage and side effects. On average, older adults take a range of 2-9 medications daily. Unfortunately, inappropriate or overuse of medication by older adults is often found to be very prevalent.
Older adults are also at a greater risk for adverse drug reaction due to polypharmacy because of the metabolic changes and reduced drug clearance associated with aging. This also means there is a greater potential of drug-drug interactions. The effects of multiple medications being used is often masked due to some of the normal aging signs and symptoms such as tiredness, decreased alertness, constipation, diarrhea, incontinence, loss of appetite, confusion, falls, depression or lack of interest in your usual activities.
Solvere Living’s Approach to Minimize Polypharmacy
At Solvere Living, we take a proactive approach in working to minimize the need for excessive use of multiple pharmacological agents in the residents. We work closely with our partnered Omnicare pharmacy as well as outside pharmacy consultants to assist with this and resident medications are regularly reviewed by our clinical wellness team. The overall use of medications and controlled substances in a Solvere Living community is lower than the national average. Programming, engagement, education and consistent preventative oversight are several solutions that Solvere practices which contributes to the lower number of medications, thus, negative outcomes from overuse or inappropriate use of medications.
It is true that the wellness directors at Solvere communities work closely with the pharmacy, primary care providers and the Solvere wellness team to have a consistent approach in overseeing the medication management program for all residents. However, it is the multi-disciplinary approach within the community that has attributed to the greatest success of minimizing polypharmacy and its negative outcomes in the residents. Wellness conferences that review all aspects of a resident’s well-being take place frequently to discuss the comprehensive needs of each resident. The success from individualizing dietary needs, incorporating impactful and purposeful engagement, maintaining cleanliness and infection control practices, monitoring triggers to stress and anxiety, supporting daily care needs and so much more all while reviewing the necessary medications for each resident all contribute to the success and health of the resident. This embodies our holistic Salus philosophy designed to acknowledge and embrace the overall well-being of a person.
Solvere Living’s Salus Wellness Philosophy
Without a holistic approach as seen through our Salus philosophy of wellness, several aspects of each resident’s needs would be overlooked, increasing the likelihood of polypharmacy occurring and the negative outcomes that follow. Ensuring medications for each resident are treating a specific diagnosis and taking the time to evaluate the resident from all dimensions of wellness and health will ensure their needs are met not only through medication management but through all aspects that allows a person to be well.