Polypharmacy is an area of concern for elderly because of several reasons. Elderly people are at a greater risk for adverse drug reactions (ADRs) because of the metabolic changes and reduced drug clearance associated with ageing; this risk is furthermore exacerbated by increasing the number of drugs used.
Polypharmacy is common among elderly persons because of the need to treat the various disease states that develop with age. Although the deprescribing of unnecessary medications is a way of limiting polypharmacy, the underprescribing of effective therapies in older patients is a concern.
Polypharmacy, defined as regular use of at least five medications, is common in older adults and younger at- risk populations and increases the risk of adverse medical outcomes.
The results of this study indicate that the prevalence of polypharmacy is high in the elderly people and is associated with demographic factors such as being married, being female, being in the age group of 60–69 and 75–79 years, having comorbidity, being retired, and being employed apart from homemakers.
The elderly are particularly at increased risk of adverse drug reactions (ADR)  attributed in the main to polypharmacy and physiological changes affecting the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of many drugs or poor compliance due to cognitive impairment or depression.
Polypharmacy is linked to increased risk of adverse drug events in older people due to increased risk of drug interactions, lack of adherence to medication regimes, susceptibility of older people to side effects of medications, and physical changes related to ageing causing difficulties in taking medications as
Frailty, multimorbidity, obesity, and decreased physical as well as mental health status are risk factors for excessive polypharmacy. Sex, educational level, and smoking apparently do not seem to be related to excessive polypharmacy.
Polypharmacy can be caused by a variety of factors including: Self-medicating without an accurate understanding of effects and reactions. Patients being prescribed multiple medications by health professionals who are not aware of other parties involved.
Polypharmacy is defined as increase in the number of medications or the use of more medications than are medically necessary. Polypharmacy is common in older ambulatory care, hospital, and nursing home patients. Polypharmacy increases the risk of numerous negative health consequences in the elderly.
Its prevalence ranges from 4% among community-dwelling older people to over 96.5% in hospitalized patients. In addition, numerous adverse clinical outcomes were associated with polypharmacy.
Tips for Avoiding Polypharmacy Issues in Older Adults
Among older adults, polypharmacy is a common problem. To help patients manage their drugs, caution them to:
Elderly individuals have the potential to exhibit sensitivity to a broad range of substances. This is due to internal biological changes associated with the aging body, present state of health, and genetic predisposition.
The prevalence of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) increases with age, with twice as many patients aged 65 years and older being hospitalized because of ADR-related problems than their younger counterparts [Beijer de Blaey, 2002].
Old people are at greater risk of developing adverse events while taking any medication—including antidepressants—because of concurrent illness, consumption of other prescribed and over the counter drugs, dose miscalculation because of forgetfulness, and altered drug kinetics.