Am I on too many medications?

By Dr. Kamalakar Surineni | January 6, 2023

Dr. Surineni

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, one-third of people over the age of 65 are taking at least five prescriptions. As we age, we may develop chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Often these chronic diseases are interconnected, meaning one could lead to another. For example, chronic diabetes could lead to renal issues and other vascular diseases necessitating multiple medications. These diseases progress over time, leading to the need for more than one medication to control them. For example, in their early stages hypertension and diabetes could be managed with one medication, but eventually need multiple agents to keep under control.
Am I on too many medications?
Though multiple medications are justified in many cases, they are not in every case. I have seen cases where multiple
providers prescribe medications that could potentially interact with each other or contribute to adverse outcomes like falls and confusion. I have also seen cases where patients have been self-medicating with multiple over-the-counter medications, which could potentially result in adverse outcomes. So, I advise patients or caregivers to carry a full list of medication (prescription and over-the-counter) to all their physician appointments and discuss with the
providers any possible interactions and adverse effects.
Dr. Kamalakar Surineni is supervisor for senior behavioral health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.