Pharmacy News

More older adults are taking drugs that can lead to falls

Older adults increasingly are taking medications that are prescribed for valid reasons but that also elevate their risks for falls, results from a new study indicate. In their analysis of government data, researchers found that the share of patients matching this profile surged from 57% in 1999 to a staggering 94% in 2017.

Deaths attributed to falls among older adults more than doubled over the study period, meanwhile. Major contributors to the trend include more frequent use of antihypertensives and antidepressants within this demographic. Women—in particular, Black females overall and White females ages 85 years and older—appear to be especially vulnerable.

Lead study investigator Amy Shaver and others do not necessarily believe older adults should be deprived of important medications solely because those drugs could increase the risk of falling. However, they do emphasize the importance of awareness. It is critical that patients “look for the warning labels on their medications and ask questions,” said Shaver, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions. “They should talk to their doctors and pharmacists about what those side effects could mean and what they can do to ensure they stay safe and not fall.”

CDC’s STEADI-Rx campaign seeks to improve collaboration between providers and pharmacists to evaluate patients’ medications and screen them for risk for falls.

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