BC FORUM News – From The Advocate, Spring 2018
Are you taking too many drugs?
By Agnes Jackman, BC FORUM Regional Representative
On February 8th & 9th, 2018, I had the opportunity to attend, as the BC FORUM representative, the Canadian Deprescribing Network’s 2018 National Stakeholder Summit on Medication Safety for Older Men and Women, which was held in Montreal, Quebec.
For those of you who might be wondering at this point: “Deprescribing is the planned and supervised process of reducing or stopping medications that may no longer be of benefit or may be causing harm.
“The goal is to reduce medication burden and harm, while maintaining or improving quality of life.” (CaDeN)
The purpose of the Summit was to provide a networking opportunity and forum for dialogue among diverse stakeholders including seniors’ advocates, health care providers and policy makers from across Canada and to teach the attendees how to leverage the activities of the Canadian Deprescribing Network (CaDeN) in their areas.
The presenters shared successful strategies from different provinces and territories for reducing the use of opioids and sedative-hypnotics among older men and women.
The question that the CaDeN is wanting people to ask themselves is, “Am I, or someone that I care for, on too many (or the wrong) drugs?”
It is also asking people to consider alternate forms of treatment to manage and alleviate their health problems, with the consultation of their health care providers where appropriate.
As for who is at risk of the harmful effects of too many medications, everyone is. The most at risk though are people who take lots of medication, women, and people over the age of 65.
Some of the common harms are drug interactions, memory problems, falls and fractures and hospital visits.
Seniors in Canada are prescribed an average of seven medications and one out of four take at least ten medications.
The CaDeN instructs that seniors should note that with age, some medications can become unnecessary or even harmful because of short-term or long-term side effects and drug interaction. $419 million is the estimated public spending on potentially harmful prescriptions in Canada.
If you are asking yourself what to do, the CaDeN has these suggestions:
• Educate yourself about what medications you are taking and why.
• Engage in a discussion with your health care provider about deprescribing options and alternate therapies.
• Spread the word about deprescribing to friends and family, advocacy groups and government representatives.
• Use MedStopper to assess whether you are taking any risky meds:
• Download information on how you can stop certain meds:
https:// www.deprescribingnetwork.ca/ useful-resources
• Learn more about deprescribing on CaDeN’s website:
• Ask questions, stay informed, be proactive, and participate in making smart choices.
There is a link http://deprescribing.org on the BC FORUM website.
Agnes Jackman is a BC FORUM regional representative and delegate to the Vancouver and District Labour Council.