What comes to mind when you think about fall prevention for older family members? Putting more lights in the home? Eliminating clutter and other tripping hazards? Keeping floors dry and clean? These are all important elements of fall prevention, but there is another common culprit to be aware of: prescription drugs that raise the risk of falls.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often from different prescribing physicians. That’s why a critical initial step is requesting a detailed overview of all medications being taken. The older adult’s physician can provide information on which medications or combinations of medications produce an elevated risk for falls. They may even be able to suggest alternate treatment options that decrease or even eliminate medications to avoid dangerous falls.
What Prescription Drugs Raise the Risk of Falls?
There are certain medications that are known to increase the chance of a fall for older adults, by impacting:
- Cognitive function. Medications such as sleep aids, muscle relaxers, antihistamines, and those that help with vertigo or motion sickness can increase drowsiness or cause sedation. They can also cause or worsen confusion, especially for people who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
- Blood sugar levels. Medications to regulate blood sugar for those with diabetes may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in dizziness and an elevated risk for falls.
- Blood pressure levels. Medications for males with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for high blood pressure may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is especially common upon standing, a condition called postural hypotension.
What Should You Do if a Loved One Is Taking One or More of These Meds?
First, make a list of all the medications the individual is taking. This should include prescriptions, OTC medications, and any supplements. Write down how frequently the individual takes each medication, the dosage, and any other notes and comments. With the list in hand, schedule an appointment with the person’s primary care physician.
The aim is to better understand which medications are increasing fall risk on their own, as well as whether any combination of meds might lead to any negative reactions. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You’ll want to find out exactly why the meds have been recommended for the person. Determine if there are any other options to bring about the same outcomes without an elevated risk for falls.
- Is a lower dose possible? It might be possible for the doctor to lower the amount of a medication while still getting the same benefit and reducing troubling side effects and fall risks.
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of continuing to take a medication? Carefully think about the benefits of taking a medication that increases fall risk, along with the detrimental ramifications of stopping the medication.
Falls for older adults can be extremely dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s advice, you may be able to make a plan to help minimize this risk for someone you love.
Home Care Can Help!
Live Free Home Health Care’s experienced care providers offer transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, medication reminders, fall risk assessments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe walking, transfers, showering, and more. Contact us at 603-217-0149 to learn more about how in-home care services can help improve safety in the home for loved ones! Our caregivers serve seniors and families in Concord, Tilton, New Hampton, Bow, Epsom, and the nearby areas.