A man goes over his list of medications to see if he takes any that may cause senior falls.

What comes to mind when you think about preventing senior falls? Putting more lights in the home? Getting rid of clutter as well as other tripping hazards? Keeping the floors dry and clean? These are all crucial elements of fall prevention, but there’s another common cause to be aware of: side effects of medications.

Many older adults are taking multiple medications, often from different prescribing physicians. That is why an essential initial step is requesting a comprehensive overview of all medications being taken. The older adult’s healthcare provider will be able to provide information on which medications or combinations of medications create a higher risk for falls. They may also recommend different treatment plans that reduce or even eliminate medications in order to avoid dangerous falls.

Which Medications Are Connected to an Increased Risk of Senior Falls?

There are certain medications that can raise the risk of a fall for older adults, by impacting:

  • Blood sugar. Medications to manage blood sugar levels for people with diabetes may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to dizziness and a greater risk for falls.
  • Cognitive function. Medications such as sleep aids, muscle relaxers, antihistamines, and those that help with motion sickness or vertigo can increase drowsiness or cause sedation. They can also cause or worsen confusion, especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • Blood pressure. Medications for men 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?

Start off by making a list of all the medications the individual is taking. This should include OTC medications, supplements, and prescriptions. Write down how often the person takes each medication, the dosage, and any other notes and comments. With the list in hand, set up an appointment with the person’s primary care physician.

The goal is to better understand which medications 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 will want to know exactly why the medications have been recommended for the person. Determine if there are any other options to bring about the same results without an increased risk for falls.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to take a medication? Carefully look at the advantages of taking a medication that increases fall risk, as well as the negative effects of stopping the medication.
  • Is a reduced dose possible? It might be possible for the physician to lower the amount of a medication while still gaining the same benefit and reducing troubling side effects and fall risks.

Senior falls can be very dangerous and debilitating. With the doctor’s guidance, you may be able to take steps to help minimize this risk for someone you love.

Home Care Can Help!

Grace Home 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. Reach out to us online or give us a call at 785-286-2273 for additional details on how in-home care services can help enhance safety in the home for someone you love! Our top-rated caregivers assist families in the greater Topeka, KS area.