From helping us lower blood pressure to controlling heart burn, medications can be extremely useful to manage our health and quality of life.
Sometimes, taking too many medications can cause more harm than good. Each year, millions of older Americans are injured due to the over-prescribing of medications as well as the use of medications deemed dangerous to seniors. The name for this is polypharmacy, or medication overload, and is defined as the use of five or more medications at once.
“We see the risk of polypharmacy increase with age. It is common for seniors to have one or more conditions that require treatment with medications. At the same time, the natural changes in the body can impact how a medication works, what dose is most effective, and how the medication will be metabolized or cleared out of the body, making education and awareness vitally important,” says Dr. Sasha Savage, medical director of the Family Practice Center with MidMichigan Medical Center.
The Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA), a regional health organization, was recently given funding by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to implement a two-phase grant to address medication overload in the community. Both funding opportunities focus on the regional redesign of policies and practices to reduce the medication overload in older adults.
MiHIA’s goal with this effort is to develop an action plan to accomplish several outcomes, including:
- Increasing education for patients and providers on the scope of medication overload and role of deprescribing
- Implementing policies and care models which improve these practices
- Reducing Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) and medication overload in seniors improving their health and quality of life
MiHIA will be implementing these efforts in partnership with the Michigan State Medical Society and the Michigan Pharmacists Association. The implementation phase of the grant runs through March of 2023.
For more information on this initiative and the work of addressing medication overload, visit mihia.org/programs/improve-medication-use/.