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Medication and Fall Prevention


Many older adults take multiple medications to treat health conditions. Taking four or more medications significantly increases the risk for falling because there are a greater number of side effects associated with multiple medication use and the side effects are often more intense. Interactions between medications can also cause side effects. Furthermore, medications react differently in the body as a person ages which can increase the risk for falling.

Tips for Safe Medication Use

  • Keep a list of all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, as well as all dietary and herbal supplements that you are taking, and show this list to each doctor and pharmacist you visit.If you take 4 or more medications, talk to your doctors about possibly reducing the number of medications in order to reduce your risk of falling

  • Ask if a newly prescribed medication or supplement replaces something else, is an addition to your other medications, or interacts with anything else you are taking.

  • Take your medications as labeled, whether prescription or over-the-counter.

  • Remember to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar at home, as recommended by your physician.

  • Report any side effects of your medication to your doctor.

  • Remember that alcohol interacts with many medications, often making the adverse effects of the medications worse.

  • Share this information with family members and/or other caregivers.

  • Talk with your doctor(s) and pharmacist(s) about any concerns.


Drugs Used For Managing

Side Effects that May Increase Risk of Falling

How to Minimize Risk of Falling

› Blood Pressure

› Angina
› Parkinson’s Disease
› Urine Output
› Constipation
› Heart Rate and/or Rhythm

All can cause blood pressure to become too low, especially when getting up quickly from sitting or lying down, causing dizziness, fainting;
Additionally, mineral loss from diuretics (water pills) and over use of laxatives can also cause weakness, especially in leg muscles;
Heart rate can become too slow or regular rhythm is not maintained with the last group of medications.

Stand up slowly after sitting or lying down. If lying down, sit up first, remain seated for a few minutes, then stand slowly.

If possible, monitor blood pressure and heart rate at home.

› Emotional Problems

Involuntary muscle movements, low blood pressure when getting up quickly from sitting or lying down, and effects on heart rhythm can cause drowsiness, imbalance and lack of coordination, slowing of reactions, dizziness, and confusion.

› Allergies/Cold Symptoms
› Anxiety
› Depression
› Pain
› Sleep problems

Can cause drowsiness, confusion, slowing of reactions, imbalance and lack of coordination, especially if taking medicine from more that one of these groups.

Avoid over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines (also found in some OTC sleep aids) if possible. Do not take more than one type of pain or anti-inflammatory medication unless specifically directed by your doctor. Do not mix with alcohol.

› Ulcers or Excess

› Stomach Acid

Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, confusion.

› Blood Sugar

Blood sugar can become too low causing confusion, weakness, fainting.

Monitor blood sugars as directed. Keep an appropriate source of sugar handy.

› Blood Clotting Problems

Excessive decrease in ability to form blood clots can cause bleeding, leading to anemia, weakness and dizziness.

Report abnormal bleeding such as bruising easily, unusual bleeding around gums, blood in urine, or rectal bleeding to doctor at once.

› Pain

Stomach irritation can cause bleeding, leading to dizziness and fainting.

Do not take more than one type of pain or anti-inflammatory medication unless specifically directed by your doctor. Do not take aspirin with other types of anti-inflammatory medications. Do not mix with alcohol.


To access references for information found on this website, please visit the References page.

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