To conduct the study, University of Buffalo researchers used research from the 2011–2015 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey that the U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts each year.
The analysis was used to study the prescription of 33 potentially inappropriate medications or classes of medications to adults 65 and older. Such medications included antidepressants, antipsychotics, barbiturates and estrogens to name a few.
Researchers surveyed 218 million-plus older adults and over 34% were prescribed at least one potentially inappropriate medication. On average, those patients were prescribed twice as many drugs. It was also found that they were also almost twice as likely to be hospitalized or visit the emergency room and were more likely to visit a primary care physician compared to older adults that potentially inappropriate medication wasn’t prescribed to.
Costs were also associated with being prescribed potentially inappropriate medication, as older adults spent an extra $458 on health care — an additional $128 on prescription drugs included — if prescribed these medications.
“De-prescribing is currently at an early stage in the United States." Jacobs said. "Further work is needed to implement interventions that target unnecessary and inappropriate medications in older adults.”
According to the Health in Aging Foundation’s public education portal, HealthinAging.org, people age 65 and older take prescribed medications more than any U.S. age group. Older adults can take steps to lower their chances of over medication and poor reactions to the drugs, according to the website. They include keeping track of all medications taken and regularly reviewing medications.