Medications and Falls

All falls by older adults can cause injury, including fractures, head trauma, and lower a person’s quality of life. Most are preventable with safe staffing and an adequate plan of care. According to the CDC, medical costs related to fall injuries are nearly $50 billion every year. One reason is medication.

A new study from the University of Buffalo shows health care providers prescribe nearly every older adult medication that increases their risk of falling. Medications have always been an issue in fall prevention especially in long-term care settings.

It has gotten worse in the last decade. For example, the study shows that in 1999, the researchers found, 57% of adults age 65 and older were prescribed drugs that cause loss of balance. In 2017, however, that percentage leaped to 94%. The study was published January 30 in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

Fall-risk-increasing drugs — or FRIDs — include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), opioids, sedative hypnotics, and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax), as well as other nonprescription medications.