Senior over-medication: 30–40% of Canada’s seniors take 5 or more medications on a regular basis. Of that group, about 10% of them take 10 or more drugs. Overmedication and taking multiple medications (technically called polypharmacy), are common and increasing to epidemic proportions among the senior population.
Medication works only when it is taken. And it is most effective when taken according to a doctor’s prescription or, in the case of nonprescription medications, label directions. Complying with prescriptions becomes increasingly difficult for seniors as the number of medications they must take increases. The problem is magnified for seniors who have conditions that diminish their cognitive abilities.
Seniors are at a greater risk of drug interactions than the general population as they typically take more medications. Taken in certain combinations, drugs can interfere or interact with one another, altering their effectiveness in controlling symptoms and improving health. In some cases the results can be life-threatening.