Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe medication use and polypharmacy in assisted living settings. We hypothesized that: 1) age, gender, race, setting, multi-morbidity, and cognitive status would influence polypharmacy; and 2) polypharmacy would be associated with falls, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations.
Design:This was a descriptive study using data from a larger study testing the Dissemination and Implementation of Function Focused Care for Assisted Living (FFC-AL-EIT).
Setting: Participants were recruited from 26 assisted living settings.
Participants: A total of 242 individuals for cohort 1 consented and completed baseline data collection.
Interventions: Data were obtained from participant medical records, observations, and input from staff.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Age, gender, race, ethnicity, comorbidities, cognitive status, medications, falls, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, function based on the Barthel Index and physical activity using the MotionWatch 8.
Results: Participants had a mean age of 86.86 (standard deviation [SD] = 7.0), the majority were women (n = 179, 74%) and white (n = 233, 96%), with five (SD = 2) diagnoses. The mean number of drugs was seven (SD = 3.56), and 51% were exposed to polypharmacy. The mean Barthel Index score was 63.06 (SD = 20.20), and they engaged in 111,353 (SD = 87,262) counts of activity daily. Fifty-eight residents fell at least once (24%), 22 were sent to the hospital (9%), and 32 (13%) to the emergency room. Neither hypothesis was supported.
Conclusion: Continued research is needed to explore the factors that influence polypharmacy. Identification of these factors will help guide deprescribing so that medication management does not harm older adults physically or cause unnecessary financial burden.