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A long-standing free federal government-funded program called Home Medicines Review is designed to bring awareness to the side effects of common medications that alleviate pain, depression, allergies and incontinence.
Some common medications can create unintended problems called “anticholinergic effects”.
“That includes things like dizziness, constipation, dry mouth, and also more serious health problems like falls leading to fractures, cognitive decline, and dementia,” NPS MedicineWise’s Dr Kate Annear said.
A survey of 1000 Australians found half did not know about these side effects.
These problems can become amplified when someone takes multiple medications.
“Many older people become confused if they’re taking many medicines,” pharmacist Sarah Gillespie said.
“Be aware that it may be their medicines that is causing the problem, not just getting older or a health condition that’s getting worse,” Annear said.
About 250,000 hospital admissions each year are the result of problems with medication.
An estimated two-thirds of these cases are potentially preventable.
The Home Medicines Review is a program that can be accessed through a GP referral for a pharmacist to visit a patient at home and revise their medication.
“If there was an increased awareness of the Home Medicines Review program we could reduce these hospitalisations,” Gillespie said.
The program can inform those taking common medications of the side effects or prevent problems with medication before it escalates to hospital admission.