An update on medication use in older adults: a narrative review

Heather E. Barry, Carmel M. Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The global phenomenon of population aging is impacting the health and care needs of society. The use of medications by older adults is acknowledged to be the most common form of medical intervention for many acute and chronic conditions and prescribing in this population continues to increase. In this narrative review, we summarise the age-related factors that should be considered when prescribing for older adults, address some of the perennial challenges related to medicine use in older people, and highlight important emerging research in this area. A range of age-related factors should be considered when prescribing for older adults. However, the evidence base still lacks data pertaining to older adults due to their continued under-representation in clinical trials. Multimorbidity, polypharmacy, and inappropriate prescribing continue to remain prevalent among older adults, although recent research has been focused on the development and evaluation of complex interventions to address these challenges. Further high-quality studies of interventions to improve and support medication use in older adults are needed, ensuring that older adults are well represented in such trials and consideration is given to the measurement of patient- and provider-focused outcomes. [Abstract copyright: © The Author(s) 2021.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Epidemiology Reports
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2021


  • Aging
  • Medication adherence
  • Medications
  • Older adults
  • Outcome measures
  • Polypharmacy
  • Prescribing


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