Turkish Journal of Geriatrics 2006 , Vol 9 (Supplement)
Hacettepe Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi Fiziksel Tıp ve Rehabilitasyon Anabilim Dalı, Ankara Dramatic changes in fertility and mortality rates during the 20 th century ensured that the world would age rapidly during the 21 st century. Levels of illness and disability among the elderly group far exceed those for other age groups, and that is the reason why the needs of this group are likely to increase substantially in the 21st century.

It is a common fact that many physiological changes, psycho and motor retardation, mental changes, nutrition disorders and many systematic diseases become more prevalent among older persons. Age related alterations in metabolism and the excretion of medications increase the risk of adverse drug events in the elderly. Inappropriate polypharmacy and prescription practice entails increased burdens of impaired quality of life and drug related morbidity and mortality. Polypharmacy in the elderly also complicates therapy, increases cost, and is a challenge for healthcare agencies. The incidence of drug interactions and adverse reactions increases exponentially with the increase in polypharmacy.

Safety of drug use, which is defined by the maximum efficacy, safety of drug and its convenience for the patient and cost-benefit relation, is significant for all age groups. However, this is much more so for geriatrics. Therefore, the physicians and the other health professionals working in this chain should pay great attention for safe use of drugs in the elderly group. Studies are needed to find the most effective way to reduce polypharmacy, especially in the frail elderly population, and to quantify the real advantages of simplifying their drug regimens in terms of improved quality of life. Keywords : Aging, Geriatrics, Elderly, Drug use, Polypharmacy