What comes to mind when you think about fall prevention for older family members? Adding more lighting? Eliminating clutter along with other tripping hazards? Keeping the floors clean and dry? These are all crucial components to preventing falls in the home, but there’s another common culprit to bear in mind: drugs that elevate fall risk.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often prescribed by different doctors. That is why a crucial initial step is requesting a thorough review of all medications being taken. The senior’s healthcare provider can provide information on which medications or combinations of medications produce an elevated risk for falls. They may also be able to suggest alternative treatment options that decrease, if not eliminate, medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.
Which Medications Are Associated With Increased Fall Risk?
There are certain medications that are known to increase the risk of a fall for older adults, by affecting:
- Cognitive function. Medications such as antihistamines, sleep aids, muscle relaxers, and those that help with vertigo or motion sickness can increase drowsiness or cause sedation. They can also cause or worsen confusion, especially for individuals with 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 lead to dizziness and an elevated risk for falls.
- Blood pressure levels. Medications for males with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for high blood pressure can cause an abrupt 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?
Start by making a list of all the medications the person 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 details of note. With the list in hand, set up a consultation with the person’s doctor.
The aim is to better understand the medications that are increasing fall risk on their own, in addition to whether any combination of medications may cause any negative reactions. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You will want to know precisely why the meds have been prescribed for the individual. Determine if there are any other options to bring about the same results without a heightened risk for falls.
- Is a reduced dose possible? It might be possible for the doctor to cut back 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 advantages of taking a medication that increases fall risk, along with the detrimental ramifications of stopping the medication.
Falls for older adults can be very dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s advice, you may be able to create a plan to help minimize this risk for someone you love.
Home Care Can Help!
Inspired Home Care’s skilled caregivers can provide transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, medication reminders, fall risk assessments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe showering, transfers, walking, and much more. Contact us at 847-787-7572 to learn more about how in-home care services can help enhance safety at home for someone you love! Our team provides care in Chicago, Wilmette, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Arlington Heights, and nearby areas.