One important way to minimize the risk of falls is to take a look at your (or your loved one’s) medication list. Medications can make you more likely to lose balance and fall—and this is even worse if you take multiple medications at the same time. Here are nine common medications that may increase your risk of falls.
1) Anti-seizure medications
Anti-seizure medications like carbamazepine (Tegretol), valproic acid (Depakene), and lamotrigine (Lamictal) are often used to reduce aggressive behavior in elderly patients with dementia. These drugs can unfortunately cause dizziness, confusion, and sedation as side effects.
What are less risky options? First, the benefit of the above medications for dementia-related aggression is arguable, so talk with your doctor about whether you absolutely need one. Newer anti-seizure medications like oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), topiramate (Topamax), and gabapentin (Neurontin) carry a lower risk for falls, but whether they help prevent aggression is yet to be seen.
Although all antidepressants can increase the risk of falls, the tricyclic antidepressants, amitriptyline (Amitril) and nortriptyline (Pamelor), should be avoided in particular. The higher the dose of these drugs, the higher the risk of falls.
What are less risky options? If you truly need an antidepressant, the selective serotonin reuptake-inhibitors (SSRIs) like escitalopram (Lexapro), sertraline (Zoloft), and citalopram (Celexa) may be a better option in terms of fall risk.
3) Insomnia medications
Zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata) are popular medications used to treat insomnia (or difficulty sleeping) and all of them make falls more likely in older people.
What is safer for insomnia? Whenever possible, instead of long-term insomnia medications, behavioral therapies like retraining sleep habits and adopting new beliefs about insomnia should be used—and these come with no risky side effects.
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