What comes to mind when you think of strategies to reduce fall risks in seniors? Increasing the number of lights in the home? Removing clutter and other tripping hazards? Keeping the floors clean and dry? These are all important components to preventing falls in the home, but there’s another common culprit to keep in mind: reactions to medications.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often prescribed by different doctors. That’s why an essential first step is requesting an extensive overview of all medications being taken. The doctor can provide information on which medications or combinations of medications create a higher risk for falls in seniors. They may also be able to suggest alternative treatment plans that reduce, if not eliminate, medications to prevent dangerous falls.
Which Medications Are Associated With Increased Fall Risk?
There are specific medications that are known to raise the risk of a fall for older adults, by affecting:
- Blood sugar. Medications to regulate blood sugar levels for those with diabetes can sometimes cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in dizziness and a heightened risk for falls.
- 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, particularly for people who have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
- Blood pressure levels. Medications for men with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for elevated blood pressure can cause an abrupt drop in blood pressure. This is especially common for a person taking one of these medications upon standing, an issue called postural hypotension.
What Should You Do if a Loved One Is Taking One or More of These Meds?
To begin, make a list of all the medications the person is taking. This should include any supplements, prescription drugs, and OTC medications. Make note of how frequently the individual takes each medication, the dosage, and any other notes and comments. With the list in hand, set up a consultation with the person’s doctor.
The aim is to better understand which medications are increasing fall risk on their own, in addition to whether any combination of meds might lead to any negative side effects. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You’ll want to know precisely why the meds have been recommended for the individual. Determine if there are any other options to bring about the same outcomes without an increased 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 pros and cons of continuing to take a medication? Carefully look at the benefits of taking a medication that increases fall risk, along with the negative ramifications of stopping the medication.
Falls for older adults can be very dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s assistance, you may be able to make a plan to help decrease this risk for someone you love.
Home Care Can Help!
Absolute Companion Care’s professional care providers can offer fall risk assessments, medication reminders, transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe showering, transfers, walking, and much more. Contact us today at 410-357-9640 for more information on how in-home care services can help enhance safety at home for older loved ones! We serve in the communities of Timonium, Hunt Valley, Monkton, Towson, Cockeysville, and the surrounding areas.