What springs to mind when you think of fall prevention for older family members? Adding more lighting? Removing clutter along with other tripping hazards? Keeping the floors dry and clean? These are all crucial elements of fall prevention, but there is another common cause to be aware of: medications that increase fall risk.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often from different prescribing physicians. That is why an important initial step is requesting an extensive review of all medications being taken. The older adult’s physician can provide information on which medications or combinations of medications generate an elevated risk for falls. They may even be able to suggest different treatment plans that decrease, if not eliminate, medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.
Medications That Increase Fall Risk
There are certain medications that increase the risk of falls in older adults, causing an impact on:
- Blood pressure. 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, a condition called postural hypotension.
- Blood glucose. Medications to regulate blood glucose levels for people with diabetes may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in dizziness and an elevated risk for falls.
- Brain function. Medications such as muscle relaxers, antihistamines, sleep aids, 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.
What Should You Do if a Loved One Is Taking One or More of These Medications?
First, make a list of all the medications the individual is taking. This should include OTC medications, supplements, and prescriptions. Note how many times 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 primary care physician.
The goal is to better understand which medications are increasing fall risk on their own, as well as whether any combination of meds may cause any negative reactions. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You’ll want to know exactly why the medications have been recommended for the individual. Find out if there are any other options to bring about the same outcomes without an increased risk for falls.
- What are the positives and negatives of continuing to take a medication? Carefully evaluate the benefits of taking a medication that increases fall risk, as well as the detrimental effects of stopping the medication.
- Is a reduced dose possible? It might be possible for the physician to scale back the amount of a medication while still gaining the same benefit and reducing troubling side effects and fall risks.
Falls can be very dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s guidance, you may be able to take steps to help reduce this risk for someone you love.
Home Care Can Help!
Anthem Home Care’s experienced caregivers can offer transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, medication reminders, fall risk assessments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe showering, transfers, walking, and more. Contact us at 361-643-2323 for more information on how in-home care services can help enhance safety in the home for older loved ones! Anthem Home Care serves clients in Ingleside, Portland, Aransas Pass, Sinton, Rockport, and the nearby areas.