The Harvard Medical School reports it is estimated 1 in 3 people over age 65 will fall each year and every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall-related injury. Statistics show women are at higher risk for a fall but men are more likely to die from their injuries than women.
Seniors should be aware of several things that can affect balance and lead to a fall. These include certain medications, inner ear problems, foot pain, weight changes and a vitamin D deficiency. Anti-hypertensive medications prescribed to keep blood pressure under control or decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure are all known to affect balance. A common side effect is orthostatic hypotension, a condition that happens if blood pressure gets too low; and results in lightheadedness, faintness and dizziness especially when the person attempts to stand from a sitting or lying down position.
Medications that suppress the central nervous system may also result in a fall as they reduce alertness, and slow reactions and movements. Some of these types of drugs include anti-anxiety medications like diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Additionally, antihistamines can cause drowsiness and are used in over-the-counter sleep aids like Nyquil and Sominex, or combined with acetaminophen in products like Tylenol PM.
If you or a loved one takes medication to treat an overactive bladder or tricyclic antidepressants to help lessen chronic pain, they too can affect a person’s balance. Other drugs that increase the risk of a fall are opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.
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