Geriatric Pharmacotherapy

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"Most of the nation's medical students finish their training without ever having set foot in a nursing home. Add the dearth of training in practical pharmacology, and for most graduates the proper use of medications in frail elderly patients becomes the overlapping of two voids, creating a particularly dense black hole in their clinical knowledge."
-- Jerry Avorn

Powerful Medicines: the Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

With the aging of the United States population, it is increasingly important for health professionals to understand how drug therapy principles for older adults may be different from those applied in younger adults. Just as medications can be metabolized and behave differently in children than in adults, so can medications act differently in older adults. This is especially the case in the frail elderly, those adults above the age of 85.

Despite the importance of geriatrics, most health professional training programs, including those in pharmacy, lack adequate emphasis on geriatrics and the use of medications in older adults. The purpose of this Web page is to provide links to resources that may be helpful to pharmacists and other health professionals in learning basic information about geriatric pharmacotherapy.

Read this introductory article that describes some of the issues related to medication use in older adults.

Citation: Clark, TR. Tough decisions about medications. Aging Well magazine, Winter 2010.

The majority of older adults have three or more chronic conditions or diseases and about one-fifth have five or more chronic conditions.  This challenge of multimorbidity adds complexity to the management of the older adult patient.  The American Geriatrics Society released Guiding Principles for the Care of Older Adults with Multimorbidity in 2012.  These guidelines and related resource materials are very helpful and are available as open access documents on the AGS Web site.


Below are links to resources on a variety of aspects of geriatric drug therapy. ASCP welcomes feedback or suggestions to improve this resource. Send comments to ClinAff@ascp.com.


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