Back in the good old days, people would generally take a medication, one at a time, when they were sick, and discontinue it when they were well. But we currently live in an age where it is relatively common for people, particularly the elderly, to be taking multiple medications, (often 10 or more) for years, if not a lifetime. This is known as polypharmacy: the concurrent use of multiple medications by a patient, and the problem is only growing.
In the US, 31% of older adults were taking 5 or more medications per year in 2006. Five years later, that number had increased to 36% . In a Swedish population study, 17% of adults were taking five or more drugs per day in 2006. This had increased to 19% in 2014.
To make matters worse, their are few to no studies actually looking at the effects of taking multiple drugs at a time – particularly in elderly patients. The fact is, no one knows what this is actually doing to us.