Overmedication is the use of drugs that are not clinically indicated and are given in an inappropriate or overly aggressive manner even when nonpharmacologic alternatives are more suitable. This is an extension of polypharmacy and is caused when age-related changes in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and potential drug interactions are ignored, when inappropriate drugs are used, or when a drug is prescribed for the wrong diagnosis in elderly individuals. Overmedication can cause adverse drug reactions, increased drug costs, and noncompliance with therapeutic regimens. This phenomenon can occur in the acute care or long-term care setting, and the community-dwelling elderly can also be exposed through the use of prescription and nonprescription drugs. Strategies to prevent overmedication in the elderly are discussed.
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