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Pharmacology in End-of-Life Care: Geriatric Considerations

Grauer, Phyllis A. PharmD, CGP

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: January/March 2011 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 36–52
doi: 10.1097/TGR.0b013e3181ff69cd
End-of-Life Care

Care of the elderly at the end of life requires knowledge of both symptom management in the terminally ill patient and geriatric pharmacology. Most medications for the treatment of pain, constipation, anxiety depression, nausea and vomiting, delirium, and terminal secretions can be used safely in older adults. Adjustments in doses may be needed not only based on the person's age, but also as a result of disease and end-stage organ failure. Successful symptom management depends on recognition of common symptoms in end of life and their treatment, comprehensive patient assessment, thoughtful choice of drug therapy, and careful monitoring for efficacy and adverse effects.

Author Affiliation: Center for Palliative Care, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Dr Phyllis Grauer is an assistant clinical faculty at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and a Specialty Practice Pharmacist with the Center for Palliative Care at the OSU Medical Center.

Correspondence: Phyllis A. Grauer, PharmD, CGP, Center for Palliative Care, The Ohio State University, 246 Atwell Hall, 453 W. 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210 (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.