Home Caregiver is in Visit to Senior Woman in a Wheelchair.

Certain high-risk prescribing practices are tied to an increase in disability among older adults, a new study from Japan finds.

Investigators from the University of Tsukuba examined health insurance datasets from 2014 to 2019 for patients aged 65 years and older. They looked at instances of polypharmacy and the use of drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties and whether these practices were associated with long-term care needs certifications.

In Japan, seniors with functional disabilities may be certified to receive long-term care services based on an assessment of care requirements. The researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 control-matched patients who had received a first long-term care needs certification within the observation period. 

Polypharmacy and the use of drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties were linked to an increased odds of being certified to receive long-term care, they found. 

Polypharmacy was defined as the use of five or more prescription drugs and drugs with sedative or anticholinergic properties include antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and anti-Parkinsonian drugs. 

The authors encouraged public health initiatives that address these prescribing practices in an effort to reduce the disability burden among older adults.

Full findings were published in the journal Geriatrics & Gerontology International.

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