Polypharmacy Issues in Senior Citizens

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


The number of people age 65 and older will more than double by 2030 as compared with this group in 1989. The population of those 85 years and older will grow from 4 million in 1998 to 8.5 million in 2030 (Wilcox, Himmeristein, & Wollhandler, 1994). The challenges of aging are compounded by the onset of chronic illness and disabling conditions and by the use of health resources. Often senior citizens are seen by a variety of health care providers. Medications are prescribed without a complete understanding of what the senior is already taking. Too often seniors will continue to take medications after they are no longer needed or take them in multiple medication combinations. These practices lead to a multitude of complications. The objective of this study was to evaluate the factors that contribute to healthy senior citizens' polypharmacy use. A descriptive survey of healthy seniors (age 65 and up) living in a midwestern retirement center was utilized using a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire was researcher developed. Content experts reviewed the questionnaire and a pilot study was conducted. A quantitative study from 114 surveys provided descriptive data regarding medications practices of senior citizens. The current study included reports of the number of seniors practicing polypharmacy, the rate that health care providers are annually reviewing seniors' medications, and factors that contribute to polypharmacy among senior citizens. The results of this study will aid in the education of healthcare providers as to what the potential polypharmacy use is in Southwest Missouri.

Subject Categories



© Teresa N Sondermann