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Keywords:

  • homebound older adults;
  • medication use;
  • polypharmacy;
  • meals on wheels;
  • medication management;
  • older adults

Abstract

Purpose

The measurement of prescription medication use is usually through a simple count of medications, which tends to ignore therapeutic categories. This research investigated prescription medication use among homebound older adults, by documenting the therapeutic prescription medication categories used by these individuals and identifying the factors associated with use of multiple therapeutic categories.

Methods

Baseline Nutrition and Function Study (2000–2001) data from 326 homebound older persons who completed the medication review component (visual inspection of medications) of the baseline in-home interview and used ≥1 prescribed medication were included in this analysis.

Results

More than 40% (n = 133) regularly took medications from three to four different therapeutic categories and 31.6% (n = 103) used ≥5 different therapeutic categories. The use of respiratory medications declined with increasing age, and more women than men used diuretic and thyroid replacement medications. Independent of other factors, increased use of multiple therapeutic categories was associated with sociodemographic characteristics (gender, age, living arrangement, marital status and medication coverage), medical conditions (diabetes, heart problems and lung disease) and inability to self-manage medications.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that individual characteristics and medical conditions may help identify homebound elders at high risk for using prescription medications from an increased number of different therapeutic categories. This observation may help clinicians and community-based providers of services to older persons to be aware of differences in therapeutic medication use within an older population, and how patterns of use may alter service needs. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.