My elderly mother is falling more often. Can it be from her medications?


Q: My elderly mother is falling more often. Can it be from her medications?

A: Yes, definitely. Medications are the single biggest reason seniors experience falls each year and are the number one preventable accident experienced by seniors. Falls are serious because they are the leading event causing declines in the health of a senior. A large majority of seniors experience a second fall within 6 months because the causes of fall are not addressed. Again, medications are the single biggest reason seniors fall each year.

A medication may cause drowsiness, sleepiness, etc. Since each medication in use can cause these side effects, seniors often experience a rapid increase in drowsiness and sleepiness. Seniors are then more prone to falls. Medications may also cause changes in appetite, strength, vision, and balance making the senior less likely to be able to correct themselves out of a near fall or stumble.

Seniors do not eliminate or clear medications the same way as they age and dosage reductions should always be considered. However, changes in medication doses should be planned and monitored. I strongly suggest that falls be discussed with a pharmacist who can make recommendations to prescribers or provide you with information to discuss with the prescriber. Please visit my website to obtain a fall log to track or note changes, falls and near falls.

Lynn Harrelson is a pharmacist who specializes in medication and prescription management for seniors. She provides health care services and information that help individuals remain independent in their homes, retirement and assisted living facilities.

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My father was experiencing great memory loss, more than usual and I looked it up online and found a side effect was 'memory loss' ! Well, we immediately took him off and found an alternative. Much better! He can now carry on a conversation whereas before his speech was even mixup and garbeled. It was embarrasing for him.