Adults who take four or more medications at a time are at highest risk for falling. i
Do you ever have trouble keeping track of your multiple prescription and over-the-counter medications, remembering to take them correctly and staying alert for side effects? Although medications are supposed to keep you from getting sick, they can also be a contributing factor to falls. The side effects of medications can potentially make you confused, drowsy and less steady on your feet, among many other symptoms. For this reason, it is important to be conscious of side effects – how they appear, what you can do to prevent their negative impact and ultimately how you can reduce your risk of falling
Becoming Aware of Side Effects
You may experience side effects from a single medication or a combination of the medications you are taking. Observe yourself and ask your family or caregivers to help watch for any tell-tale signs, including:
- Dizziness and balance problems
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Loss of coordination
One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If you are confused about how to take your medications correctly, or if you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, it is time to talk to your doctor. In fact, it is always a good practice to consult your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications you take – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and herbal or vitamin supplements.
5 Tips to Avoid Side Effects and Prevent Falls
Here are some tips to help you avoid negative medication side effects that could contribute to falls:
- Use a single pharmacy to fill your prescriptions
- Report any new symptoms to your doctor right away
- Take your medications as directed
- Avoid mixing alcohol and medicine, unless it has been approved by your doctor
- Keep a complete, updated list of the prescription and non-prescription medications you take
Whether you are managing multiple medications, are feeling less steady on your feet or have fears about falling for any reason, take a step in the right direction and download Residential Home Health’s guide Home Safety Tips to Minimize Your Risk of Falling. This guide will help you understand how falls can be prevented and will assist you in making your home environment safer.
i According to a 2008 New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope, A List of Drugs That Increase Falling Risk