Medication Management is a Key for Fall Prevention
Among adults over age 65, falls are a threat to health and independence. They are also common. More than
one-third of adults over age 65 fall each year. They account for about 2 million emergency department visits,
data collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows. About three-quarters of those
treated are women. One-third of older adults who fall suffer moderate to serious injuries, including hip
fractures and head trauma. Falls often send seniors from a hospital to a nursing home or long-term care facility
for follow-up care.
Falls happen for many reasons. Aging often causes declines in vision, balance, and strength, making falls more
likely. As we age, we are also more likely to take medicines that can cause dizziness, slow our reaction time, or
cause other side effects. Finally, how a person’s home is set up can increase the risk for falls.
Here are some things to do to reduce the chance that you or a loved one will get hurt by a fall:
Know Your Medicines:
Make sure your doctor knows which medicines you take. I can't overstate how important it is to keep a
current list of all of your prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Show this list to your doctor and pharmacist
at each visit. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you, for example, if a medicine to treat blood pressure can
cause dizziness and how to avoid problems.
Find out if a new medicine replaces one you already take. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the new drug will
cause side effects with drugs you already take.
Ask how to take new medicine correctly. Make sure you find out how often to take it and whether you
should take the drug with food. Tell your doctor if you have side effects.
Be sure to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar at home, if recommended by your
Remember that alcohol interacts with many medicines. It can make side effects, like dizziness, worse.
Click the title hotlink above for additional fall prevention strategies related to staying strong with exercise and
creating a safe environment.
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.