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Barriers to Optimising Prescribing and Deprescribing in Older Adults with Dementia: A Narrative Review

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Older adults with dementia commonly have multiple chronic conditions that prompt clinicians to prescribe medications. While dementia is a life-limiting disease, progression from mild cognitive impairment to end stage dementia is a process that can occur over many years and may not take a predetermined course. Therefore aligning pharmacological treatment with changing goals of care can be challenging. The aim of this narrative review was to explore barriers to optimising prescribing and deprescribing (withdrawing) of medications as the goal of care shifts from prolonging life to optimising quality of life. Optimising pharmacological treatment to help people with dementia achieve their goals of care often requires deprescribing of medications that are inappropriate, as well as initiating appropriate medications. Medical practitioner, system, patient and carer related barriers to optimisation of medications in older adults with multiple morbidities have been identified including: inadequate guidelines, incomplete medical histories, lack of time, avoidance of negative consequences, established beliefs in the benefits and harms of medication use and others. Optimising prescribing for older people with dementia is further complicated by diminished decision making capacity, difficulties with comprehension and communication, increasing involvement of carers and difficulties establishing goals of care. Further research is required into the attitudes, beliefs and preferences of people with dementia and their carers regarding prescribing and deprescribing.
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Keywords: Cognitive impairment; dementia; deprescribing; goals of care; older adults; prescribing; quality use of medications

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2015

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  • Current Clinical Pharmacology publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances in clinical pharmacology. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles in the field. Topics covered include: pharmacokinetics; therapeutic trials; adverse drug reactions; drug interactions; drug metabolism; pharmacoepidemiology; and drug development. The journal is essential reading for all researchers in clinical pharmacology.
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