What comes to mind when you think of preventing falls for older loved ones? Putting more lights in the home? Eliminating clutter as well as other tripping hazards? Keeping floors dry and clean? These are all vital components to fall prevention, but there is another common culprit to be aware of: prescription drug-related falls.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often prescribed by different doctors. That is why a critical initial step is requesting an extensive review of all medications being taken. The older adult’s doctor will be able to provide information on which medications or combinations of medications generate a higher risk for falls. They may even recommend alternate treatment plans that decrease, if not eliminate, medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.
Which Medications Are Connected to Increased Fall Risk?
There are certain medications that increase the risk of drug-related falls for older adults, by impacting:
- Blood pressure. Medications for males with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for elevated blood pressure can cause an unexpected drop in blood pressure. It is especially common upon standing, an issue called postural hypotension.
- Cognitive function. Medications such as antihistamines, sleep aids, muscle relaxers, and those that help with motion sickness or vertigo 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 glucose. Medications to control blood glucose levels for older adults with diabetes can sometimes cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in dizziness and an increased risk for falls.
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 any supplements, prescription drugs, and OTC medications. Write down how often the person takes each medication, the dosage, and any other notes and comments. With the list in hand, set up a consultation with the person’s primary care physician.
The aim is to better understand the medications that are increasing fall risk on their own, as well as whether any combination of medications could cause any negative side effects. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You will want to find out precisely why the medications have been recommended for the person. Find out if there are any other options to bring about the same results without an elevated risk for falls.
- Is a reduced dose possible? It may be possible for the physician to decrease the amount of a medication while still getting the same benefit and decreasing troubling side effects and fall risks.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to take a medication? Carefully look at the advantages of taking a medication that increases fall risk, along with the harmful ramifications of stopping the medication.
Drug-related falls can be extremely dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s assistance, you may be able to make a plan to help reduce this risk for someone you love.
In-Home Care Can Help!
Compassionate Nursing Services’ skilled caregivers can provide transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, medication reminders, fall risk assessments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe walking, transfers, showering, and much more. Reach out to us online or give us a call at 314-432-4312 to learn more about how in-home care can help promote safety at home for older loved ones! Compassionate Nursing Services provides care in Town and Country, Oakville, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, and the surrounding communities.