Microsoft word - 2009-3-summer.doc

Falls are one of the most common causes of Medications,
injuries in older people, especially those 65 years and older. Falls can happen to even those who are seemingly strong and healthy. One of the risk factors associated with falling is the use of multiple medications. Older people take three to five prescription medications and many take more than this. Unfortunately, many medications cause drowsiness, blurred vision, balance problems, and/or agitation, which can increase the chance If appropriate, your doctor may be able to lower the dose of a medication, or switch to another
with fewer side effects. More importantly, the
following ten things that you can do for safer,
more effective medication use to decrease the
risk of falls and fall related injuries.
The ten steps you can take to help prevent
medication related falls:

1. Take all medications to your doctor's office for
review. By bringing in your prescriptions, over
the counter medications, herbal products, and
vitamins, your doctor can assess their safety
and appropriateness.
2. Have a single doctor coordinate your
healthcare. Make sure your doctor knows all of
the medications you are taking and you feel
comfortable reporting falls and near falls to
3. Fill your prescriptions at one pharmacy. This
allows the pharmacist to maintain a complete list
of your medications to screen for drug
4. Ask about calcium and vitamin D supplemen-
tation. It is well known that calcium and vitamin
D will prevent fractures. Ask to make sure they
will not interact with any of your current
5. Take your medications as prescribed. Making
changes to your medication regimen on your
own can cause harm. Ask your pharmacist if you
are still unclear how to take your medication
after a doctor's visit.
6. Take your time getting up from a sitting or
laying position. This is important if you are
starting a new blood pressure medication since
these medications may cause dizziness at first.
7. Have your vision checked and use vision aids
if needed. It is important that you can read the
information on prescription labels and can see the medication you are about to take. 8. Install good lighting in your home. Be sure The Balance
there is enough light to see what you are doing while taking your medications. Self Test
9. Use devices to help maintain your balance. This is important during and after you take To help determine if you may be headed for a fall, take the Balance Self Test below. Simply 10. Stay healthy by limiting alcohol intake, not answer yes or no to each question, and keep moking, and practicing balance/strength training. 1. Have you fallen more than once in the past Common medications that may contribute to
falls in the elderly:
2. Do you take medicine for two or more of Antidepressants: amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin
the following diseases: heart disease, anxiety, hypertension, arthritis, and depression? Antihistamines (for allergies):
3. Do you feel dizzy or unsteady if you make chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine Antihypertensives (for high blood pressure):
clonidine (Catapres), doxazosin (Cardura), 5. Have you experienced a stroke or other prazosin (Minipress), terazosin (Hytrin), nitrates, neurological problem that has affected your Antipsychotics: chlorpromazine (Thorazine),
6. Do you experience numbness or loss of clozapine (Clozaril), mesoridazine (Serentil), 7. Do you use a walker or wheel chair, or do Benzodiazepines (for sleep, anxiety, nerves):
clorazepate (Tranxene), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam 8. Are you inactive? (Answer yes if you do not participate in a regular form of exercise, such as walking or exercising 20-30 minutes at Muscle Relaxants: carisoprodol (Soma),
clidinium (Librax), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), dicyclomine (Bentyl), donnatal, hyoscyamine Pain Medications: meperidine (Demerol),
10. Do you have difficulty sitting down or pentazocine (Talwin), propoxyphene (Darvocet) Reprinted with the kind permission of Mr Brown. For more information on falls see our Summer 2007 issue. This is available as a download from If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the balance problem and should consult with your


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