Want to stay strong at 90

It’s fascinating how the number of medications we take can impact our health as we age. Research from the ESTHER study highlights the potential risks associated with taking multiple medications, particularly for older adults. Here’s a summary of the key findings and implications:

  • Polypharmacy and frailty: Polypharmacy, defined as taking five or more medications, is associated with an increased risk of frailty in older adults. Frail individuals are more likely to experience weakness, reduced endurance, and impaired function, which can lead to falls, disability, and even mortality.
  • Research methodology: The study involved nearly 2,000 participants from the ESTHER study, which assessed the effects of medication use on frailty over an eight-year period. Participants were categorized into groups based on the number of medications they were taking, and pharmacists reviewed their medications to identify potential side effects.
  • Findings: Participants in the polypharmacy and hyper-polypharmacy groups were more likely to be at risk for frailty compared to those taking fewer medications. Specifically, individuals taking between 5 to 9 medications were 1.5 times more likely to become frail within three years, while those taking more than 10 medications were twice as likely to become frail.
  • Implications: The findings suggest that reducing the number of unnecessary medications for older adults could help mitigate the risks of frailty. This underscores the importance of careful medication management and regular review of prescriptions to minimize potential adverse effects and interactions.
  • Considerations for older adults: Older adults and their caregivers should be aware of the potential risks associated with polypharmacy and hyper-polypharmacy. It’s crucial to have open communication with healthcare providers about medication use, including discussing the necessity and potential side effects of each medication. Additionally, regular medication reviews and deprescribing efforts may be beneficial in optimizing medication regimens and reducing the risk of frailty.

In summary, while medications can play a vital role in managing health conditions, it’s essential to strike a balance and avoid unnecessary polypharmacy to preserve overall health and well-being, especially in older adults.