We have known for a long time that medication-related fall risk is a danger for seniors. 20 years ago, only a little over half of seniors were impacted by that risk; but today, that number has increased significantly – to a full 94% of seniors who now experience medication-related fall risk. Not only that but, deaths from such falls are occurring at more than double the earlier rate.
Researchers who identified this increasing concern also discovered that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that escalate fall risk were filled more than 7.8 billion times. This includes a surge from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to greater than 52 million in 2017.
The analysis does not specifically pinpoint these medications as the source of fatality in the falls experienced, but signals the need for further investigation into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik of the division of geriatric medicine 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 crucial for older adults and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the health conditions that call for 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, states, “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?”
Prescriptions which happen to be specifically connected to medication-related fall risk include those for depression, seizures, blood pressure management, psychosis, and pain, and others. Women are more commonly prescribed these types of medications, and those age 85 and older are being affected by the highest spike in fall-related deaths.
One step aging adults can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to follow through with any recommended safety precautions. Home Sweet Home In-Home Care is pleased to offer an evaluation, scheduled at a time convenient to you. We can also help lower fall risk through:
- Making sure medications are taken just as prescribed
- Assisting with safe transfers and walking
- Encouraging older adults to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs to bolster balance, flexibility, and strength
- And much more
To learn more about our in-home care services and to connect with a home health aide in Kalamazoo, MI and other Michigan communities, give us a call at (866) 229-2505, or (269) 373-5444 in Kalamazoo, (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw, (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph, and (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek. For a full list of the communities we serve, please visit our Locations page.