Deprescribing medications

There is no doubt that medications can save lives. However, as you get older it is not unusual to be prescribed many medications for chronic conditions. Taking numerous medications can become difficult to manage. Studies have shown that increasing the number of medications one takes can increase the possibility of experiencing unwanted side effects such as falls or memory loss.

Health care professionals encourage what is known as “deprescribing.” This involves reviewing a patient’s medication regimen to possibly reduce the dose or stop medications that may no longer be of benefit or may be causing harm.

For successful deprescribing, it is important to establish a good relationship with your health care provider as well as your pharmacist. The pharmacist plays a very important role in managing medications. Here are some questions to ask your pharmacist and your health care provider: “Why am I taking this medication? What are the benefits and potential risks of this medication? Can I reduce the dose or stop taking this medication? When should I book my follow-up appointment?”

Deprescribing may not be a good option for everyone. Some medications can be life-saving, and others can cause serious harm if stopped abruptly. It is important that medications be reduced or stopped under the constant supervision of your pharmacist and your health care provider, who may suggest a gradual reduction to limit the effects of withdrawal. Finally, to promote optimal medication management, it is suggested that patients always keep a complete list of prescription and over-the-counter medications with them.

The next time you meet with your pharmacist or health care provider, ask whether deprescribing a medication is right for you. You could end up feeling better!
For more information, check out this bilingual site that provides a wide range of information on deprescribing: