Optimize Medications

Among Canadians aged 65 years and older:

  • 2 out of 3 take at least 5 different types of medications
  • 1 out of 4 take at least 10 different types of medications

Medication and Frailty: What do We Know?

As the number of medications increases, the risk of harmful effects, drug interactions, and hospitalizations increases.

Sometimes medications, including prescriptions, over the counter drugs, and vitamins and supplements, can interact poorly with each other. Unnecessary drug interactions may contribute to confusion, poor nutrient absorption, and/or dizziness, which can cause falls.

Learn more from Hal & Joanne of BodyBreak about how you can optimize your medications!

Harmful effects from too many medications:

Regardless of the reason for taking multiple medications, those who do have an elevated risk of negative events.

Ask your doctor about your medications:

  • What changes have been made to your medication routine?
  • Why are you taking the medications you are?
  • What is the proper way to take medications?
  • What are possible side effects?
  • How will you know if the medication is working?
  • Ensure you follow-up with your doctor about tests and future appointments

Remember to keep your medication record up to date (ISMP Canada).


Here is a helpful video from The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada on 5 questions to ask your healthcare provider:

Older Canadians taking multiple medications should ask their healthcare provider to review those medications annually to ensure that they are still appropriate for their stage of life and to reduce the risk of possible negative interactions.

This includes all prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, and vitamins and supplements.

Proceedings of the Canadian Frailty Network Summit: Medication Optimization for Frail Older Canadians


MEdication RAtionalization (MERA) Intervention Project

Electronic Deprescribing Intervention: MedStopper Project

Trial of the eDosette: Optimizing Medication Use and Safety

The eDosette Study: Optimizing Medication Use and Safety

Frailty and Recognizing Appropriate Medications IN Geriatrics and Long-Term Care Project

Determining the Optimal Duration of Antibiotic Treatment Project

Drug Burden Index Project

Elderly with epilepsy DruG AppRopriateness (EDGAR) Study

Improving Medication Use in Residential Care Project

Frailty and High-Risk Non-Prescription Drug Use in Community Pharmacy Practice Project

Team Approach to Polypharmacy Reduction in Long-Term Care

Streamlining Medication Appropriateness and Deprescribing within Integrated Healthcare Teams Project


Principal Investigator: Susan Bronskill, PhD

Principal Investigator: Keith Brunt, PhD

Principal Investigator: Lisa Burry, BScPharm, PharmD

Principal Investigator: Todd Campbell Lee, MD, MPH, FRCPC

Principal Investigator: Dee Mangin, MBChB, DPH, FRNZCGP

Principal Investigator: Colleen Maxwell, BSc, MA, PhD

Principal Investigator: Emily McDonald, MD, MSc

Principal Investigator: Emily Reeve, BPharm (Hons), PhD

Board of Directors Member: Jean Gray, CM, MD, FRCPC, LLD, DSc, FCAHS

Board of Directors Member: Fred Horne

Research Management Committee Member and Chair of the Scientific Review Committee: Richard Hall, BSc, MD, FRCPC, FCCP


Network Partner: ISMP Canada

Network Partner: Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists

Network Partner: Pfizer Canada

Network Partner: Innovative Medicines Canada (formerly Rx&D)


Innovations Presented at CFN’s Annual Conference


Empowering Patients: 5 Questions to Ask

The Drug Burden Index


Empowering Patients: 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications (p. 30)

MedSafer (p. 21)

Canadian Institute for Health Information. Health care in Canada 2011: A focus on seniors and aging. (Ottawa, ON: CIHI, 2011). Retrieved from https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/HCIC_2011_seniors_report_en.pdf

Ramage-Morin, P. L. on behalf of the Health Information and Research Division at Statistics Canada. (17 July 2015). Medication use among senior Canadians: Findings. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2009001/article/10801/findings-resultats-eng.htm

These are general health guidelines and should not be considered personal medical advice. Speak to your doctor before making any changes to your medications. You should consult your health care provider and discuss each element outlined above to ensure that each element of the AVOID Frailty campaign is personally customized for you.