Did you know people taking multiple medications are at greater risk of falling?
Sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotic, and many more types of drugs can contribute to falls by reducing mental alertness, worsening balance and gait, and causing drops in systolic blood pressure while standing. One of the most important pieces of advice I give to families and anyone assisting an elder, is to take medications just as the physician ordered them. There are myriad ways to accomplish this: a medication box, or any one of several types of medication reminder electronic devices, or even making another individual responsible for dosing and administering medication.
- Know the 5 Rights of Medicine:
- Right Dose
- Right Drug
- Right Time
- Right Person
- Right Route
- Use a medication organizer i.e. med box, electronic device, specific person to administer as a reminder device to prevent distribution and consumption errors.. Use a Pill Pouch to organize understand specifics of each medication.
- Talk with your physician or pharmacist about ways to reduce your chances of falling by using the lowest effective dosage, regularly assessing the need for continued medication, and the need for walking aids while taking medications that may affect balance.
- Have a home care nurse, pharmacist, or physician conduct a “brown bag” medicine review of all current medications.
- Limit intake of alcohol as it may interact with medications.
- Know what each pill is for and what it looks like, and side effects to expect. Remembering that month to month generic pill manufacturers may change and the same pill may have a different appearance.
- Follow the doctor’s orders closely for taking the medicine – quantities, duration, timing, food intake, etc.
- Keep track of symptoms, side effects or changes in conditions and communicate them to a doctor.
- Remove all out-of-date medications and those no longer in use.
- Take expired prescriptions and unmarked bottles to local resource for disposal. Many communities offer a day or two each year where you can drop them off for free. (Please DO NOT FLUSH as this harms the environment.)
- Keep all medications in original containers to avoid confusion on dosage and type of pill.
- Get prescriptions refilled far enough in advance to avoid running out of medication.