Nursing: Managing Polypharmacy in Older Adults

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About the Course

An astute knowledge of the aging process, with an emphasis on prescription, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements, is essential for nurses in order to safeguard patients and ensure best practice standards.  As the population becomes older, individuals will have increased chronic diseases, as well as comorbid conditions that are managed by medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter. This course presents the concept of polypharmacy, related definitions and concepts, its incidence, predictors of polypharmacy, consequences of polypharmacy, pharmacokinetic principles that relate to the elder population, drug classes and individual medications that cause the most risk, and evidence-based strategies to prevent and manage polypharmacy. Case studies are presented allowing for the application of concepts. 

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
  • Define polypharmacy and related terms.
  • Quantify the prevalence of polypharmacy in the older adult population.
  • Describe the effect of the aging process on pharmacokinetic principles.
  • List predictors of polypharmacy.
  • Describe the consequences resulting from polypharmacy on older adults.
  • Identify therapeutic classes of drugs commonly associated with functional impairment.
  • Discuss the use of evidence-based strategy tools to monitor for confusion and falls.
  • Relate inappropriate and appropriate prescribing to evidence-based tool kits.
  • Provide comprehensive strategies utilized to prevent polypharmacy.
  • Relate polypharmacy to case studies.

About the Author:
Therese Jamison, DNP, ACNP-BC

Dr. Jamison is the founding Director of Nursing at Lawrence Technological University. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Vanderbilt University and was formally educated at the University of Michigan (postmaster’s acute care nurse practitioner) and Wayne State University (MSN/BSN). She has been an associate of Ascension Michigan Healthcare System since 1981 and is currently practicing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) in cardiovascular surgery (since 2005) and formerly practiced in the area of cardiology (since 1998). Dr. Jamison has an extensive history as an educator for undergraduate nurses (BSN), as well as primary and acute care nurse practitioner students since 1994. She has presented extensively at local, regional, and national forums on topics of nursing practice with a focus on cardiology, pharmacology, nursing education, and quality improvement initiatives.

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