Healthy Living: Plein Center at UW highlights importance of deprescribing medications for aging adults

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The Plein Center at the University of Washington is pushing to educate the aging public on the safety of drugs as they get older.  The topic of deprescribing certain medications was the focus of a recent symposium to address the health of seniors.

Take insomnia for example.  Researchers say an older adult taking medication for the common sleeping disorder that may have worked years ago may no longer be safe for them to take now.

"We have a process for systematically and slowly reducing the dose of these medications to reduce the potential harm to the older adult and at the same time introducing some non-drug options to help manage their insomnia," said Zach Marcum, Assistant Professor with the UW School of Pharmacy and the Plein Center.

Marcum says a lot of older adults are on too many medications and may not realize how those drugs impact their health and safety.  He says it's important patients talk to the person prescribing those medications about the best options for continued care.

"Learning strategies that are possible to reduce the number of medications is really what the care of older adults is all about," said Shelly Gray, Director of the Plein Center.  Gray says the center recently received funding from the Centers for Disease Control to look at the impact deprescribing medications has on reducing falls in aging adults.  She says some of those falls may be prevented if patients and their doctors reduce the use of certain high-risk medications.  To learn more, click here.

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