Introduction: Understanding the medication and supplement use of aging people is critical to ensuring that health service providers in primary care can optimise use of these agents. An increasing number of people with different levels of intellectual disability (ID) are living in the community and becoming for the first time substantial users of primary health care services. This, however, brings new challenges that need to be addressed at the primary health care level. We quantified the use of medicines and food supplements and described the associated patterns of morbidity in the two comparable cohorts of aging population with and without intellectual disability.
Method: This research aligned participants of 50 years and over who lived in the community from two nationally representative cohorts of older people; those with ID from the Intellectual Disability Supplement (n = 238) and those without ID (n = 8,081) from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.
Results: Data showed that both medication and supplement use in the two groups was prevalent but that those with ID received more of both medications and supplements (e.g. polypharmacy was 39.0% in ID vs. 18.1% in non-ID cohort). Moreover, based on an analysis of the therapeutic groups and medications used that treatment was more intense in the ID cohort (95.8 vs. 7.0 International Non-proprietary Names per 100 participants). Supplement use was almost twice as prevalent in the ID group but substantially less diverse with only 10 types of supplements reported. Morbidity was higher in the ID group and showed a higher prevalence of neurological and mental health disorders.
Conclusion: The results highlight that the burden of therapy management and the potential risks in those ageing with ID differs substantially from those ageing without ID. Understanding the medication and supplement use of people aging with intellectual disability (ID) is critical to ensuring that health service providers in primary/ambulatory care can optimise use of these agents.