What comes to mind when you think about fall prevention for older loved ones? Adding more lighting? Getting rid of clutter and other tripping hazards? Keeping floors clean and dry? These are all crucial elements of fall prevention, but there is another common cause to bear in mind: reactions to medications.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often from different prescribing physicians. That’s why a critical initial step is requesting a comprehensive review of all medications being taken. The doctor can provide information on which medications or combinations of medications produce a higher risk for falls. They may even be able to recommend alternative treatment plans that decrease or even eliminate medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.
Which Medications Cause Falls Among Older Adults?
There are certain medications that often raise the risk of a fall for older adults, by impacting:
- 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 type of dementia.
- Blood pressure. Medications for men with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for high blood pressure may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. It is especially common for a senior taking one of these medications upon standing, an issue called postural hypotension.
- Blood glucose. Medications to manage glucose levels for people with diabetes can sometimes cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in dizziness and a heightened risk for falls.
What Can 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 any supplements, prescription drugs, and OTC medications. Note how many times the person takes each medication, the dosage, and any other details of significance. With the list at hand, set up a consultation with the person’s primary care physician.
The goal is to better understand the medications that are increasing fall risk on their own, in addition to whether any combination of medications might lead to any negative reactions. Ask for answers to the following questions:
- What is each medication for? You’ll want to know exactly why the meds have been recommended for the person. Find out if there are any other options to bring about the same outcomes without a heightened risk for falls.
- 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, as well as the detrimental ramifications of stopping the medication.
- Is a reduced dose possible? It may be possible for the physician to decrease the amount of a medication while still achieving the same benefit and lowering troubling side effects and fall risks.
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 reduce this risk for someone you love.
In-Home Care Can Help!
Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s professional 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 913-440-4209 for additional details on how in-home care services can help improve safety at home for older loved ones! Our award-winning home care services are available in Overland Park, Mission Hills, Leawood, Lenexa, Kansas City, MO, and the surrounding areas.