For Patients

Are you taking too many medications?

It is common for older adults with multiple health conditions to take too many medications. You might be seeing different medical specialists who are all prescribing medications for you.

If you are taking 5 or more medications, it is called polypharmacy. Sometimes, this may be the best option for you. However, when you take too many, it can do more harm than good.

Why can polypharmacy be a problem for you?

Polypharmacy (taking 5 or more medications) can:

  • Cause bad health outcomes like:
    • Falling more often
    • Thinking poorly
    • Feeling very tired
    • Eating poorly
  • Cause health problems that need hospital care
  • Change how well your medications work
  • Make it hard for you to take your pills correctly
  • Make it hard for you to see side effects

How can TAPER reduce the harms of polypharmacy?

TAPER stands for Team Approach to Polypharmacy Evaluation and Reduction. It aims to reduce the harmful effects of polypharmacy. To do this, you (and your family) will be working as a team with your pharmacist and family physician.

You and your team will:

  • Talk about your health priorities and medications
  • Use web-based tools check if your medications are appropriate for you
  • Make changes to your medication routine (if needed)
  • Monitor you to see if these changes benefit you

TaperMD is an online platform that combines all of the above.

For a step-by-step overview of the TAPER process, see Overview.

What will happen to my medications?

TAPER is not just about getting of all your medications. The purpose is for you and your team to figure out whether your medications are effective, safe, and needed.

To do this, you and your team may decide to:

  • Change the dose of your medications
  • Change the number of medications you take
  • Switch to safer medications
  • Not make any changes to your routine at all

If you and your team make changes to your medications, you will be carefully monitored for what happens. For example, this information might tell your team that your blood pressure is stable even without your blood pressure pill.

Some medications need to be changed slowly to prevent unwanted effects. This means that you must work together with your team of healthcare professionals to do this safely.

How might TAPER benefit me?

TAPER may benefit you by:

  • Making your drug routine easier, safer, and more effective
  • Improving your confidence in managing your medications
  • Prioritizing your health goals
  • Improving your thinking, energy, sleep, and nutrition
  • Reducing pain and number of falls
  • Reducing hospital visits