Preventing Medication-Related Falls

senior in a wheelchair with her caregiver standing behind her

For many seniors, taking medicine is a normal part of a daily routine. But many necessary medications cause unwanted side effects — including a risk of medication-related falls. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans 65+ experiences a fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related fatalities and nonfatal trauma-related hospital stays in the same demographic.

Many people think clearing walkways is the only way to prevent senior falls. It’s  a smart precaution to take. Also remove tripping hazards like extension cords, throw rugs and unnecessary clutter. Take it further and install non-slip bathtub mats and handrails. But one of the most important steps seniors can take is knowing which medications make them more susceptible to falling.

 

Medications That May Cause Senior Falls

Medications that are most likely to increase risk of senior falls can be categorized into three main groups:

  • Medications that affect blood pressure
  • Medications that lower blood sugar
  • Medications that affect the brain

You may already know one or several of your medications puts you at risk of falling. But if you aren’t sure about the side effects of your prescriptions, have a conversation with your pharmacist or doctor. If you’re taking multiple medications, a doctor or pharmacist can tell you if potential drug interactions are putting you at greater risk of medication-related falls.

 

Steps to Prevent Medication-Related Falls

Practice Good Medication Management Habits: Forgetting a dose or taking more than prescribed can increase your risk of medication-related falls. Keep your prescriptions organized and stick to a schedule. Setting an alarm on your phone can help keep you on track. If you’re still having trouble remembering your prescriptions, ask for help from a loved one or a caregiver.

Ask for Annual Medication Reviews: A qualified health care provider, such as your doctor or pharmacist, can conduct an annual medication review and identify any risks. When you speak with your health care provider, make it clear that you’re concerned about medication-related falls and you want to take any prudent steps that reduce your risk.

Weigh the Benefits Against the Risks: If a medication review reveals that one or more of your prescriptions make you more susceptible to senior falls, your health care providers may be able to recommend alternative treatments. If there are no viable alternatives to your medications, you and your doctor can discuss whether the medicine’s benefits outweigh the risks. 

Take Risky Medications at Bedtime: If you need a prescription that causes medication-related falls, ask your doctor if you can take it before bed. There may be reasons to take the prescription earlier in the day, but if you can, taking it at night is a smart step toward fall prevention.

Consider Vitamin D Supplements: Low vitamin D has been associated with higher risks of senior falls. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium levels and protein in the muscles. Taking a supplement may help build strength and stability and improve gait.

To find out more helpful steps you can take to stay safe, check out our blog post on fall prevention. And if managing medication has become too challenging for you or your senior loved one, assisted living at Freedom Village of Bradenton provides the helpful support a senior needs while encouraging as much independence as possible. Our team can help you determine your risk of medication-related falls and take any necessary precautions. If you’d like to learn more about Freedom Village of Bradenton, please contact us.