We’ve long known that there are particular medications that increase fall risk for seniors. Twenty years ago, slightly over half of all seniors were impacted by that risk; yet now, that number has risen considerably – to an astounding 94% of seniors who are now vulnerable to falling due to medication side effects. Not only that, but deaths from such falls are occurring at more than double the prior rate.
The research doesn’t expressly identify these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but suggests the need for further research into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik in the geriatric medicine division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”
It is essential for seniors and their physicians to work together to strike the perfect balance between managing the conditions that require these medications and preventing additional complications from a fall.
Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the research study, states, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”
What Medications Increase Fall Risk for Seniors?
Medications that are specifically connected with fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, pain, and psychosis, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are experiencing the highest spike in fall-related deaths.
One step seniors can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to implement any recommended safety precautions. Harmony Home Health & Hospice is pleased to offer an evaluation, scheduled at a time convenient to you. We can also help minimize fall risk through services such as:
- Making sure that medicines are taken just as prescribed
- Aiding in safe walking and transfers
- Encouraging older adults to engage in physician-approved exercise programs to bolster balance, flexibility, and strength
- And so much more