Medicines use in older people

Older people over 75 may have several chronic conditions and need multiple medicines. This can put them at risk of medicines-related harm. This chapter of the Fourth Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation examines polypharmacy, medication management reviews and proton pump inhibitor dispensing in older people.

Polypharmacy is when people are using five or more medicines at the same time. Medication management reviews (MMRs) aim to help people to get the most benefit from their medicines and minimise their risk of medicines-related harm.

Almost 40% of people aged 75 years and over were dispensed five or more medicines in 2018–19. About 5.4% of people aged 75 years and over had at least one MMR. Almost half of people aged 75 years and over had at least one prescription dispensed for a PPI medicine.

Variation in medicines use and dispensing for older people means that system changes are needed to improve access to MMR services. Targeted interventions are also needed to prompt clinicians to review long-term medicines such as PPIs.

Each page includes a summary of findings and recommendations, interactive maps and graphs, and downloadable data.