Could your medicines make you fall?

The first day of Fall is designated as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Lincoln Health System wants to encourage you to take a look at ways you can decrease your risk for falling.

In the United States, more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day. In 2014, the population of the US included 46.2 million people aged 65 and older. In Lincoln County, 21.5% of our 35,000 residents are over the age of 65.
Falls are the number one cause of injuries and death from injuries in older Americans according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• One in four Americans over 65 falls each year
• Every 11 seconds, a senior adult is treated in the ER for a fall
• Every 19 minutes, a senior adult dies from a fall
• Risk factors for falls include increasing age, medication use, and cognitive impairments

How can we change these statistics? Well, we can look at the easiest risk factor to alter – Medications. Medication types that increase fall risks include medicines that affect the brain, such as prescriptions to help people relax or sleep, medicines that lower your blood sugar, and medicines that affect your blood pressure. Here are a few tips for safe medication use:
1. Keep a List – write down ALL of your prescriptions and over the counter medicines including all dietary supplements. Show this list to your primary care doctor and pharmacist. This is very important if you use multiple pharmacies or see different doctors!
2. Talk to Your Doctor – If you take more than 4 medications, talk to your Primary Care Provider about reducing your number of medications.
3. Ask Questions – Ask your doctor and pharmacist when any new medicines, supplements, or herbal remedies are added to your list of medications to look for possible interactions.
4. Take as Labeled – Always take all medications as labeled, whether prescription or over the counter.
5. Know Your Numbers – Monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar at home and keep a log. Review this information with your doctor.
6. Tell Your Doctor– Report any side effects of your medications to your doctor.
7. Limit Alcohol Use – Alcohol may interact with many medications, this could make adverse medication side effects worse.

How can Lincoln Health System help you reduce your risk of falls:
Lincoln Medical Home Health performs home safety checks for every one of their patients. A trained nurse will inspect your home to look for risk factors that could increase your chance of falling. Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants will visit you at home to keep you on track with your rehabilitation goals. Home Health Nurses will also help educate you on medication safety.
Patrick Rehab-Wellness Center offers wellness classes geared toward older adults. Staying active will increase strength, flexibility, and build balance. They also offer outpatient Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapy.
Donalson Care Center offers Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation with therapy offered 7 days a week to help you recover quickly from an illness or surgery. Respite care is available to meet the needs of patients who have not had a recent hospital stay but have short-term care needs.
Lincoln Medical Center offers an IMPACT program to help you stay on track for wellness after a stay in the hospital. Our Case Managers will make home visits and phone calls to track your progress.

If you fall and are injured or cannot get up, Lincoln Medical Center Ambulance Service reminds you to:
Call 911
Tell the dispatcher where you are – Help will be on the way
Have a First Aid Kit in an easily accessible area. You can use items in this kit to temporarily care for a wound if       needed while awaiting help
Have a list of medications in a safe location
If possible, secure any pets
Calling 911 is the quickest and best way to get help in an emergency. Dispatchers are trained to help you until the ambulance arrives. Lincoln Medical Center Ambulance Service is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to respond to any emergency. Our staff is trained to provide a high level of care for patients of all ages and conditions.

 

Sources and additional resources:

Falls Prevention Facts


https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff08.html
https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/healthy-living/injury-falls-older-adults/older-adult-falls.html
https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/steadi_medication_linked_to_falls_rev7-a.pdf

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