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Medications and Senior Falls: The Risks

 

Seniors are at a far higher risk of falls than any other age group, with falls the leading cause of accidental injuries for adults age 65 and older. While there are physical changes associated with aging, such as loss of balance, eyesight problems, and reduced muscle strength, several types of medications have been identified as contributing to falls.

Senior medical drug use has greatly increased over the past decades, and many older persons are on several medications. 72 percent of adults 55 and older are on at least one medication, and more than 20 percent are taking at least four drugs. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are common in this age group.

Medications that Increase Fall Risk in Seniors

Several medications have been identified as increasing fall risk, and seniors who are prescribed these medications are advised to take extra precautions for their own health and safety. Medical alert bracelets and GPS enabled systems with automatic fall alerts can be lifesavers for those currently taking any of these fall risk-increasing drugs.

The list of medications contributing to falls includes:

  • antihypertensive agents (blood pressure medications)
  • diuretics (water pills)
  • B blockers (heart medications)
  • sedatives
  • hypnotics
  • neuroleptics and antipsychotics
  • antidepressants
  • benzodiazepines (used for anxiety, muscle relaxation, alcohol withdrawal, drug agitation, nausea, vomiting, depression and panic attacks)
  • narcotics
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

If you or a loved one is currently on any of these medications, ensure you have a medical alert bracelet or system that triggers an automatic alert in a fall – even if you are incapacitated and unable to push the button to contact help. An unfortunate fact about falls is that they can lead to unconsciousness. These advanced devices can be lifesaving for those who live independently. They function with a GPS system that identifies your location so that emergency personnel can be dispatched without delay. In a fall, immediate medical attention is often a critical for the future health of the individual.

Healthy Living Can Reduce Some Medications

If you are currently on one or more of these medications, it makes sense to be particularly careful. Some alternatives may be helpful in reducing drug use; eating a diet high in nutritive value, including fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate healthy protein, and limiting consumption of processed foods can increase your overall health, and in some cases, make it possible to reduce drug intake.

If you feel depressed, some medical professionals advise changing your lifestyle, rather than taking medication. Taking long walks, joining groups, staying active, and having adequate sleep all help to stave off feelings of depression. Although television is a good way to stay entertained, engaging with life outside the home is an important way to maintain health, both physically and mentally. If you have concerns about falling, you have a legitimate reason for worry. Find out about medical alert bracelets and systems offering automatic fall alert features so you can live your life with a higher level of confidence. You can evaluate the various types of systems to find the medical alert system that will work best for your lifestyle.

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