Fall risk increases with the number of drugs used per day and polypharmacy (the use of at least three drugs) is regarded as an important risk factor for falls in older people.
Some physicians are reluctant to initiate potentially contentious conversations with patients who may not want to stop taking medications that could increase their risk of falls, according to an AHRQ-funded study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Interviews with primary care physicians indicated that some patients misunderstood a fall as an isolated event rather than an ongoing concern. Patients and caregivers reported discomfort ending prescriptions that were successfully treating unrelated conditions even if they increased fall risk. Resources to facilitate conversations between physicians and patients may ease possible tensions associated with discontinuing inappropriate medication use. Access the abstract.
It’s extremely common for older adults to be taking medications that have been associated with increased fall risk. These medications generally fall into one of two three broad categories:
- Medications that affect the brain. Health professionals often refer to these drugs as “psychoactives.” These are drugs that affect brain function. Many tend to cause some sedation or drowsiness.
- Medications that affect blood pressure. These are drugs that can cause or worsen a sudden fall in blood pressure (BP). A drop in BP — or chronically low BP — can increase fall risk.
- Medications that lower blood sugar. This is only a consideration for older adults with diabetes. However, as this condition affects an estimated 25% of people over age 65, these medications are relevant to many seniors.
Join us for the Medication Safety Action Group Webinar, April 20, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 pm CT. This session builds on the March 16 learning event: Medication Safety – Impact of Aging on Medication Use with Kristen Carter, PharmD, Lynn’s Dakotamart, Pierre, SD. This is an interactive session, allowing for discussion, resource sharing, coaching and development of quality improvement efforts to improve medication safety for our older adults.