What springs to mind when you think about reducing the risk of falls for older loved ones? Adding more lighting? Getting rid of clutter along with other tripping hazards? Keeping the floors clean and dry? These are all crucial elements of preventing falls in the home, but there’s another common cause to keep in mind: medication side effects.
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often from different prescribing physicians. That is why an important initial step is requesting a comprehensive review of all medications being taken. The senior’s healthcare provider will be able to provide information on which medications or combinations of medications produce an increased risk of falls. They may also be able to suggest different treatment plans that reduce, if not eliminate, medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.
Which Medications Are Linked to Increased Fall Risk?
There are specific medications that are known to raise the risk of a fall for older adults, by impacting:
- Cognitive function. Medications such as muscle relaxers, antihistamines, sleep aids, and those that help with vertigo or motion sickness 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 glucose. Medications to regulate glucose levels for those with diabetes may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to dizziness and an increased risk for falls.
- Blood pressure levels. Medications for males with an enlarged prostate and those prescribed for high blood pressure may cause an unexpected 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?
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 individual takes each medication, the dosage, and any other notes and comments. With the list in hand, set up an appointment with the person’s doctor.
The goal is to better understand which medications are increasing fall risk on their own, as well as 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 find out precisely why the meds have been recommended for the individual. Determine if there are any other options to bring about the same results without increasing the risk for falls.
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of continuing to take a medication? Carefully think about the benefits of taking a medication that increases fall risk, as well as the harmful ramifications of stopping the medication.
- Is a reduced dose possible? It may be possible for the doctor to scale back the amount of a medication while still getting the same benefit and reducing troubling side effects and fall risks.
Falls for older adults can be very dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s guidance, you may be able to make a plan to help minimize this risk for someone you love.
In-Home Care Can Help!
Abby Senior Care’s experienced caregivers can offer fall risk assessments, medication reminders, transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, and a steadying hand to aid in safe walking, transfers, showering, and much more. Contact us today at 303-699-8840 to learn more about how in-home care services can help improve safety at home for someone you love! We proudly serve families in Arvada, Denver, Littleton, Greenwood Village, Aurora, and the surrounding areas.