Article by Rachel Nania, AARP

“From the time she was 15, Anne Halli-Tierney knew she wanted to be a geriatrician — and it’s all thanks to her grandfather, who she said “became a human being” after seeing one.

At one point, Halli-Tierney says her grandfather was taking more than 20 prescription medications a day to manage his chronic illnesses. However, after a few visits to the geriatrician — a doctor who specializes in the treatment needs of older patients — that list got whittled down to eight.

“He had much more energy, his quality of life went up a great deal, and I think it was because he was literally overmedicated. They just basically made his medication list efficient,” says Halli-Tierney, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama. “And I was, like, ‘Oh, I want to grow up and do that. ’ “

Fast-forward several years, and Halli-Tierney says polypharmacy — a term used to describe the concurrent use of several medications, typically five or more — is still common, especially among adults who see more than one doctor to manage multiple chronic conditions.”

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