Prescribing for older people
What do you need to be aware of when prescribing for elderly people? Louise E Cotter and Una Martin discuss
Prescribing is an essential skill in clinical practice, which requires a sound knowledge of the principles of therapeutics. Many factors influence the way the body handles drugs and the effects seen. Age is particularly important.
If you have ever been attached to a medical firm when it is on call for acute admissions you will know how important it is to prescribe drugs safely to elderly people. About 15% of the population in the United Kingdom is older than 65, and the number of elderly people will continue to rise in the 21st century. The prevalences of many diseases are related to age, and several diseases may coexist in the same patient—for example hypertension, osteoarthritis, and prostatic hypertrophy. Prescribing for these and other conditions means that elderly patients consume half of all prescribed items, and their drug regimens are often complex. The use of cardiovascular drugs, diuretics, analgesics, and hypnotics