We have known for a while that there are certain medications that increase the risk for senior falls. Twenty years ago, just a little more than half of seniors were impacted by that risk; however today, that number has increased significantly – to an astounding 94% of seniors who are now vulnerable to falling due to medication side effects. In addition, deaths from such falls are happening at more than double the earlier rate.
Scientists who identified this ever-increasing concern also discovered that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled in excess of 7.8 billion times. This consists of a surge from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to more than 52 million in 2017.
The study doesn’t specifically pinpoint these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but signals the necessity for further research into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik in the geriatric medicine division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”
It’s essential for older adults and their doctors to work together to strike the perfect balance between managing the conditions that necessitate these medications and preventing additional complications from a fall.
Postdoctoral research fellow, Amy Shaver, from the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead writer of the research study, says, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”
Medications that are specifically connected with fall risk include those for depression, seizures, blood pressure management, pain, and psychosis, and others. Women are more commonly prescribed these kinds of medications, and those 85 and older are experiencing the greatest spike in fall-related deaths.
One step older adults can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to follow through with any recommended safety precautions. Atlanta Home Care Partners is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at a time convenient to you. We can also help reduce fall risk through:
- Making sure that medicines are taken just as prescribed
- Aiding in safe walking and transfers
- Encouraging seniors to engage in physician-approved exercise programs to bolster balance, strength, and flexibility
- And more
Give us a call at 404-228-0103 to learn more about our in-home care services and why Atlanta Home Care Partners is the preferred choice of home health agencies in Atlanta and the surrounding communities.