Issues in aging

October 2010

FocusIssues in aging

Prescribing in the elderly

Volume 39, No.10, October 2010 Pages 728-733

Edwina Holbeach

Paul Yates


Balancing medication use in the elderly is a complex task, made more difficult by the physiological changes and increased burden of disease seen with aging.


This article reviews recent literature and outlines the basic principles and problems of medication use in older people, and provides potential strategies to optimise prescribing.


Competing risks and benefits complicate medication use in the elderly. General practitioners need to be aware of these risks and benefits in order to tailor the most appropriate treatment regimen to each individual patient.

With the first of the 'baby boomer' generation turning 65 this year, and an estimated one in four Australians projected to be aged over 65 years by 2050, Australia's population is aging rapidly.1,2 This brings great challenges to primary care. In addition to being aware of the physiological changes of aging and their potential sequelae, general practitioners must balance the increasing complexity of comorbid diseases, target polypharmacy, and remain vigilant to potential medication misuse.

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