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Falls risk and medication. Selina Khanom : Dementia Team Pharmacist. Aim. To understand how medication can be a risk factor for falls. Objectives. Learn about the NSF for older people – what it is and why it is relevant Understand both why and how medicines can increase risk of falls

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falls risk and medication

Falls risk and medication

SelinaKhanom : Dementia Team Pharmacist

  • To understand how medication can be a risk factor for falls
  • Learn about the NSF for older people – what it is and why it is relevant
  • Understand both why and how medicines can increase risk of falls
  • Appreciate the importance of preventing osteoporosis in older people
  • Learn tips on how to use medicines safely
what are nsf s
What are NSF’s?
  • National Service Frameworks (NSFs) are policies set by the NHS to define standards of care for major medical issues such as cancer, coronary heart disease, mental health and diabetes. NSFs are also defined for some key patient groups including children and older people.
  • We will be looking specifically at the NSF for Older people
role of nsf
Role of NSF

The two main roles of NSFs are:

  • Set clear quality requirements for care based on the best available evidence of what treatments and services work most effectively for patients.
  • Offer strategies and support to help organisations achieve these.
how are nsf s developed
How are NSF’s developed?
  • Health professionals
  • Patients
  • Carers
  • Health service managers
  • Voluntary agencies
  • Other experts
why is the nsf for older people relevant
Why is the NSF for Older People relevant?
  • The aim of standard 6 of the NSF for Older People is to reduce the number of falls that result in serious injury and ensure effective treatment and rehabilitation for those who have fallen.
every year over 400 000 older people in england attend a e departments following a fall
Every year over 400,000 older people in England attend A & E departments following a fall.

Preventing falls in frail older people will save lives and decrease disability.

intrinsic risk factors
Intrinsic risk factors
  • Balance, gait or mobility problems including those due to degenerative joint disease and motor disorders such as stroke and parkinsons disease
  • Visual impairment
  • Impaired cognition or depression
  • Postural hypotension
  • Taking 4 or more medicines, in particular centrally sedating or blood pressure lowering
why is medication a risk factor
Why is medication a risk factor?
  • Polypharmacy = When a patient is prescribed four or more drugs
  • It is a risk factor for falls and potential harm in older people
  • Sometimes it is medication that is necessary, but quite often it occurs over time when a medication is simply not discontinued when no longer needed
why is medication a risk factor1
Why is medication a risk factor?

Taking four or more medications significantly increases the risk for falling because

  • There are a greater number of side effects associated with multiple medication use and the side effects are often more intense
  • Interactions between medications can also cause side effects
  • Medications react differently in the body as a person ages which can increase the risk for falling
how medicines can cause falls
How medicines can cause falls
  • Sedation
  • Impaired postural stability (inability to maintain posture)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Drug induced parkinsonism (Parkinson like symptoms)
  • Visual impairment (blurred vision, dry eyes)
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Vestibular damage (tinnitus, deafness)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
medication reviews
Medication reviews
  • In patients taking medicines known to contribute to falls, medication review can play an important role in falls prevention.
  • Where a patient has fallen, medication review and subsequent prescribing changes have been shown to reduce further falls.
what is a medication review
What is a medication review
  • ......“Structured review of the efficacy and continuing appropriateness of a patients medication”..
  • A medication review may result in either modification or withdrawal from a drug. If neither are possible, close monitoring may be appropriate.
osteoporosis prevention
Osteoporosis Prevention
  • Older people with osteoporosis will be at increased risk of fractures if they fall.
  • This patient group should be advised to
    • Ensure adequate nutrition – especially with calcium and vitamin D
    • Perform regular weight bearing exercise
    • Stop smoking
    • Avoid alcohol
osteoporosis prevention1
Osteoporosis Prevention
  • Bisphosphonates are commonly used for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis
  • Taken ONCE weekly
  • Some common examples include
osteoporosis prevention2
Osteoporosis Prevention
  • Patients prescribed a bisphosphonate may also be prescribed
    • calcium tablets
    • Vitamin D tablets
  • Calcium should be taken at least half an hour after bisphosphonate
tips for safe medication use
Tips for safe medication use
  • Keep a list of all medications including prescriptions, over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbals.
  • Keep all your medicines in the same place
  • Ask questions about your medicines.
  • Use only one chemist when possible.
  • Take your medicine according to the directions.
tips for safe medication use1
Tips for safe medication use
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you do not want to take your medicines or cannot take them.
  • Tell your doctor about any changes in your health.
  • Tell your doctor if any medicine makes you feel better or worse.
  • Throw away medicines that are out of date.
  • Do not share medicines with family or friends
prescribed medication that can cause falls
Prescribed medication that can cause falls



  • Pain
  • Seizures
  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Nerves




Heart problems


Blood pressure

Urinary accidents





Muscle spasms



Mr M

89 years old male

Wife recently passed away

Dosette box contains:

Bisoprolol 10mg

Clopidogrel 75mg

Ramipril 10mg

Furosemide 40mg

Mirtazepine 45mg

Aspirin 75mg

Simvastatin 40mg

Mr M also buys Nytol from his chemist. Since his wife passed away he has difficulty sleeping at night.

  • Falls prevention is one the aims of the NSF for Older People
  • Polypharmacy is a risk factor for falls
  • Medication reviews can help to reduce the risk of falls
  • Patients at risk of osteoporosis should be on preventative medication
  • Encourage patients to use medication safely