Iowa Older Adult Polypharmacy


About the Course


This course is for registered nurses and nurse practitioners that work with older adults. Understanding the prescription and over the counter medications individuals take is important in coordinating care.  This course focuses on common Polypharmacy issues and medications that may not be effective or compatible when taken with other medications.  The nurse has a responsibility to reconcile the possible problems. 

Purpose Statement

As the population becomes older, they have increased chronic diseases and they may take multiple medications.   Often, because specialist orders the prescriptions, there may not be careful coordination of all medications the individual is taking.  This course presents the concept of polypharmacy as well as common medication problems, strategies to combat unnecessary polypharmacy, and drug classes that cause the most risk.

Learning Objectives

  1. Provide at least one definition of polypharmacy.
  2. Quantify the approximate prevalence of polypharmacy in a nursing home practice setting.
  3. List two predictors of polypharmacy.
  4. Describe two potential consequences resulting from polypharmacy.
  5. Identify a therapeutic class of drugs commonly associated with functional impairment.
  6. Provide two general strategies useful to combat unnecessary polypharmacy.
  7. Name two key ideas for nurses to keep in mind for the management or prevention of polypharmacy.
  8. List two handy questions useful for conducting medication reviews.

About the Author

Bradley Gillespie, PharmD.

Bradley Gillespie, PharmD, trained as a clinical pharmacist, has practiced in an industrial setting for the past 20+ years.  His initial role was a Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmaceutics reviewer at FDA, followed by 15 years of leading Early Development programs in the pharma/biotech/ nutritional industries.  Currently, he supports efforts at the National Institutes of Health to develop therapeutics for rare and neglected disease.  In addition to his industrial focus, he remains a registered pharmacist and operates a medical writing business, with a focus on developing health professional continuing education programs.   

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