Importance of Medication Management to Prevent Falls

By Ruby Cemental

If your loved one has been more off-balance than usual lately, you might discover a surprising culprit: their. While doctors typically try to manage medications in order to reduce side effects, sometimes, a specific patient may experience more severe side effects than the typical person. Other times, a combination of medications can be to blame. Whether balance issues are connected to sensitivity to a medication or combining medications, take care not to underestimate the importance of medication management as a means to help reduce the risk of a fall.

How Medication Increases Fall Risk

Certain categories of medications are known to increase the chance of a fall. These include:

  • Analgesics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Urinary incontinence medicine
  • Anti-Parkinson's medications
  • Hypertension medicine

The reason these medicines, and others not on this list, increase the risk of falling are the side effects, which may include the following: 

  • Double vision
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Delirium
  • Motor incoordination
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Hypotension

Each of these side effects can put seniors more at risk to fall. And, because seniors are naturally at a higher risk for falls, increasing that risk can pose serious dangers. 

Proper Medication Management

Check potential side effects on medication bottles

Any time a side effect to a medication is reported, it must be included in the packaging. You can look up potential side effects online. If your loved one is feeling wobbly, dizzy, or sick to his or her stomach (which can lead to not eating, which can then lead to increased weakness), look into whether or not one of their medications could be to blame.

Continue to monitor for side effects over time

Some medications take a while to start causing side effects. Others may cause particular side effects only when in combination with another medication. If you think a medication might be the culprit, discuss the potential side effects with your loved one's doctor.

Don't forget over-the-counter medications

There's a reason why you should discuss every medication you're taking—even over the-counter herbs and supplements—with your doctor. Make sure that your loved one discusses everything that they're taking with their doctor as they seek to reduce symptoms that could lead to a fall.

If you or a loved one is taking any of these medications, or multiple of these medications, it is worthwhile to talk to your doctor about fall risk. In some cases it is the combination of two medicines taken for different issues that causes the increase fall risk. For example an anti-anxiety medication coupled with a sleep aid may cause an issue. In addition, patients who take over the counter medication along with prescription medication may be unwittingly increasing their risk of a fall.

Having a doctor review the medication regimen is advised. They may be able to adjust which types of medications are being taken to control certain illnesses so that the fall risk is lowered. They can also advise which over the counter medications should be avoided.

Doctors prescribe medication to help, not to cause problems. Unfortunately, many medications come with heavy side effects. If you think that your loved one's medications might be causing symptoms that result in falls, observe them carefully. Document instances that have led to dizziness, weakness, or falls. Then, accompany them to discuss the issue with their doctor.

Caregiver helping a senior man stand up

Tags: Fall Prevention