What do you plan to do for college? How tiring that question becomes for high school students! What are your summer plans? What are you planning for the holidays? Do you have plans for your vacation? How are your wedding plans coming along? Where do you plan to live? Have you planned for retirement? What are your retirement plans? Do you have a health plan? Okay, so that is not the most fun question. But I think you may get the point.
When we start a new medication, we should also have a plan including the strength, what it is for, how long before it begins to work, how may it make you feel, and possible effects that are concerning enough to call the doctor. Some medications we take are only used for a short period of time, especially for acute pain (pain relievers), an infection (antibiotics), or to reduce inflammation or an allergic reaction (corticosteroids). These prescriptions tend to be filled with enough medication for a week or two, provide the number of days you should take the medication for, or may have a tapering dose to follow for a particular number of days.
Now let me ask, do you know how long you will need to take a medication, used for a chronic condition? When will there be a follow-up? What will determine if you continue the medication or if it needs to be deprescribed? These are important questions to ask and to continue to ask at health care visits. As you can image, a cultural shift, that of receiving prescriptions at a doctor’s appointment, needs to morph into thinking as instinctively about deprescribing.
In the US there are over 70 million baby-boomers with the last of the generation reaching the age of 65 by the year 2030. With an increase in older adults, there comes an increase in health conditions, medications, and polypharmacy or overmedication. Instead of thinking another medication may be needed to feel better, it could be that a medication needs to be reduced, changed, or stopped to feel better. Proactively approaching deprescribing can prevent a fall, injury, accident, or toxicity.
Let’s add one more plan to the many plans we make in life and be able to answer, “Yes” to, “Do you have a deprescribing plan?”
Keep reading my blog weekly to learn more about deprescribing, planning, and monitoring, to optimize medications. Use the templates available to start the process, more will be added as the process unfolds.