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Safe Use of Medication by Seniors

This page was reviewed or revised on Friday, October 23, 2009 4:41 PM

Executive Summary


Medications continue to be a problem for seniors in our province. The perusal of studies indicate that problems relative to multiple drug use, monitoring procedures, Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications, and attitudes of both seniors and health professionals are continuing. There is a need for more networking, action plans and initiatives to reduce the problem.

The LSA decided to hold a provincial workshop to develop a plan to promote the safe use of medication by seniors, in order to enhance the seniorsþ quality of life.

Seniors and health professionals worked on action plans for four themes. All the good ideas that were developed in the two day workshop can be used within the following plan.


Enable Seniors Groups

  1. Characterize your senior population: who are they; where are they; how grouped; who do they interact with
  2. Get seniors to identify their leaders
  3. Get seniors to formulate their concerns - ask not tell
  4. Develop a clear mandate and set of operating rules
  5. Form committees to deal with individual concerns
  6. Check that the seniors own the process, and represent their community

Once seniors are organized, they can proceed to attack their concerns. Whatever project they undertake they will want to:

  • Develop knowledge
  • Develop Interaction among stakeholders
  • Develop Alternatives


A detailed action is provided for each of the above on the safe use of medications by seniors.

 One of the first projects undertaken by a seniors organization could deal with medication misuse by seniors. Seniors recognize that there is a serious problem with medication misuse affecting their wellbeing while at the same time there is a drive to contain medication costs affecting their pocketbooks.


Why did we plan a provincial workshop?


Medications continue to be a problem for seniors in our province. A literature search has found many studies describing the problems but few that provide solutions. The perusal of studies indicate that problems relative to multiple drug use, monitoring procedures, OTC medications, and attitudes of both seniors and health professionals are continuing to exist. There is a need for more networking, action plans and initiatives to reduce the problem.

The Medication Committee wanted to enlist support from other communities to try to develop a model for action plans for the province. Seniors and health professionals from Health Units and Community Health Centres from across the province gave the workshop a good geographic representation. Seniors recognize the problem and want to use the resources from these community agencies to resolve their own problems with regard to medication use.


Background statistics
Ontario Drug Benefit Program (1992):

1,098,520 seniors in Ontario on the ODB program.
Cost: $1.2 billion per year = Average cost of $1,000.00 per senior in Ontario.
25 - 40 % estimated inappropriate prescribing (Ontario).
20% (219,704) seniors hospitalized due to medication misuse.
17,000 seniors treated for prescription drug problems.