APRN: The Practicalities and Pitfalls of Polypharmacy
Older adults typically present with several chronic illnesses in addition to acute problems and health promotion needs. The aging population is remarkably heterogeneous and a "one size fits all" prescribing pattern is ill-advised. Multiple research studies in the United States and abroad demonstrate that older adults are poorly served by pharmacotherapeutics. Safe and efficacious prescribing for this group is challenging and requires that the NP neither overprescribe nor underprescribe. A working knowledge of the pharmacokinetics of aging and basic pharmacodynamics of medications in the older adult is needed to appropriately care for elders. Most APRN have probably been cautioned about the dangers of polypharmacy, particularly in regard to older adults. It is a risk factor for many serious problems, including shortness of breath, hypertension, dependency in instrumental activities of daily living, poor self-reported health, decrease in lower extremity function, and tension between patient and provider. Working with older adult patients is both rewarding and challenging. The changes that aging brings to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics add an increased responsibility to the APRN who prescribes for this population. An awareness of the physiological needs of older patients and the resources available to the APRN can help improve the quality of care for these patients.
Purpose/Goal: To provide APRN with an overview of the complexities inherent in polypharmacy in older adults.
1. Discuss special considerations associated with drug therapy for the older adult.
2. Describe anatomical and physiologic changes in the older adult that alter drug effects.
Tamara Zurakowski, RN, GNP-BC, PhD
The planners and author(s) of this continuing nursing education activity have disclosed no relevant financial relationships with any commercial companies pertaining to this activity.
Contact Hours: 1.9
Expiration Date: 12/31/2014
Pharmacology Hours: 0.5
Member Price: $40.00
Non-Member Price: $60.00