A new study by researchers at the Kolling Institute will directly guide the use of medications by older Australians after it identified the profound adverse effects of taking multiple medications.
The study follows the latest figures which show around 50 per cent of Australians over 75 years take five or more medications every day to treat multiple chronic illnesses.
The trend is leading to an increased risk of geriatric syndromes, including functional and cognitive impairments.
Concerned by the growing number of adverse issues, Professor Sarah Hilmer and her team from the Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology used a preclinical model to assess the impact of multiple medications on physical activities.
Trang Tran, the PhD student who led the paper, said the research identified significant adverse impacts, including a reduction in physical movement such as walking speed and behavioural changes similar to a drug-induced delirium prior to sleep.
“Interestingly, some of the impacts were greater with females than males, confirming that gender can influence outcomes, particularly the effect of medications on physical and cognitive performance,” she said.
“Part of the strength of this research is due to the consistent monitoring involved, with behaviour patterns recorded continuously for 23 hours in both night and day settings.