Polypharmacy and the use of drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties may contribute to increased disability among older adults, according to a new study. Researchers in Japan found that polypharmacy, hyperpolypharmacy, and cumulative doses of drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties increased the odds that adults aged 65 and older would be certified to receive long-term care.
In Japan, older adults with functional disabilities may be certified to receive long-term care based on an assessment of their care needs. In the study, the authors identified 2123 patients who received their first certification and matched them to 40,295 controls based on age, sex, and location of residence. They found that the risk of long-term care certification was associated with high-risk prescribing.
For the study, polypharmacy was defined as the use of five or more prescription drugs and drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties including antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and anti-Parkinsonian drugs.
The author concluded that “further studies are warranted to examine whether a decrease in prescribing drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties could reduce the long-term care burden on society.”
These findings may be particularly significant for assisted living communities seeking to keep residents longer.
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