Germany, Berlin: Too many drugs prescribed to older people

According to the drug report of the health insurance Barmer GEK (German national health insurance), one third of senior citizens are being prescribed more than five drugs daily.

Among older seniors, those between 80 and 94, every other takes this amount. The report points to the risk of multiple drugs. On average, men take 7,3 drugs, whereas women take 7,2. Quite often, persons in need of care or demented persons take up to 15 different drugs simultaneously.

This often leads to side effects such as falls, difficulties to swallow, confusion, incontinence.

With demented persons the danger of over-medication is especially high, since they are not able to talk about their state of health. Experts also agree that demented persons often receive too many tranquilizers and sleeping pills in order to keep them calm.

The Alzheimer society of North Rhine-Westphalia requests that persons over 65, in need of care, should be given a maximum of five drugs simultaneously, in order to prevent side effects or interaction.

One way out would be the electronic health card, the electronic prescription, where all drugs prescribed are listed and the electronic patient file. This would give a better overview to pharmacies and doctors regarding the medication.

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