Often overlooked, one of the primary causes of falls may be the number and types of medications taken. Falls in the elderly may result in broken hips, concussions, bruising and even death. Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again in 6 months. The majority of the lifetime cost of injury for people 65 or over is due to falls. One-fourth of those who fracture a hip die within 6 months of the injury.
Many people are quick to address hazards in the environment that need to be changed such as using non-slip rugs, hand rails in the bathroom, a raised toilet seat, a shower chair a chair lift for stairs, and ramps. The elderly person is likely to invest in a cane or walker or wheelchair to aid with their walking.
However, an issue that isn’t always immediately recognized as a factor in increased falls are the medications that have been prescribed by a doctor in whom the elderly puts their trust. The elderly person, and perhaps the doctor as well, is totally unaware of the role that medications can play in the increased number of falls. Medications such as sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs can all contribute to falls by reducing mental alertness, worsening balance and gait, and causing drops in systolic blood pressure when getting up. Elderly people who take multiple medications are at greater risk of falling. If an elderly person is on four or more prescription medications and has been falling, they need to get a medication consultation from a geriatric specialist. Doctors are not always aware of how medications interact, the proper dosage for an elderly individual, or if there are natural alternatives available. Although this is starting to be addressed in some medical schools today most of the currently licensed physicians did not have this type of training.