Falls are one of the most preventable causes of broken bones and head injuries in your residents. Avoiding the serious decline in health that such injuries cause is vital to keeping your community active and engaged.
Even without any injury, when a resident falls, they typically become very afraid of falling again. This fear causes them to become less active, which in turns makes them weaker and less stable, actually increasing the likelihood of a serious fall.
About a third of people over the age of 65 living in residential communities fall each year and about half of those have multiple falls within the year. Over 2 million emergency rooms visits and nearly 39 million hospitalizations happen because of falls each year. In the United States, the annual health costs of falls is over $28 billion.
Drugs take the responsibility for a significant amount of these incidents. Recent studies show the most common culprits are:
• Blood pressure medications
• Antiseizure drugs
• Narcotics, sedatives, opioids and tranquilizers
Any of these drugs can cause dizziness, confusion, blurred vision or hypotension – and most seniors take at least one of these medications every day. Of these, antidepressants are shown to have the strongest associations with falls. Women are more likely to be prescribed antidepressants – and have had the highest increase in deadly falls, over 160% since 1999.
Your residents’ fall risk increases with every additional medication they take. Most seniors take about 5 medications each day and as residents age, they may take 7 or more different drugs each day.
Unfortunately, many times, these additional medications can also combine to further increase fall risk. In fact, as medications prescribed have increased, so have fall incidents. For example, in 1999, 12 million people were taking antidepressants, and there were about 29.4 falls per 100,000 people. In 2017, 52 million people were prescribed antidepressants and the fall rate rose to 63.3 falls per 100,000 people.
When you have a resident who is taking multiple medications, including any listed above, ask your pharmacy for a thorough review of those drugs. At Tablets Pharmacy, we regularly screen medications and interactions for fall risks in residents and help to mitigate that risk. We’ll talk to you and to the resident’s physician to work together to change or replace medications that will help lower their fall risk.
If you’d like a free assessment of your resident’s medications, please call Tablets Pharmacy at 708-272-1212. We’ll be happy to help reduce your resident’s fall risk, enabling them to lead more active, vibrant lives.