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Drugs and prescribing in the older patient 

Drugs and prescribing in the older patient
Chapter:
Drugs and prescribing in the older patient
Author(s):

Miles Witham

, Jacob George

, and Denis O’Mahony

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0058
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date: 25 February 2021

The use of pharmacological agents is often a central component of medical therapy for older people. Medications can relieve symptoms, improve function, and prevent illness, but they also have the capacity to inflict great harm. Older people are at particular risk of such harms as a result of impaired homeostatic reserve, of altered drug metabolism, the presence of multimorbidity and consequent polypharmacy, which increases both exposure to potentially harmful agents and the chance of drug–drug interactions. The therapeutic priorities for older, frail people may differ when compared to younger, robust patients; limited life expectancy means that attempts to prolong life may become relatively less important than the relief of symptoms and avoidance of side effects and medication burden.

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