Falls prevention is a key focus for long-term and residential care. While there are many factors involved when an older adult falls, one of the most common underlying causes is the medications they take.

This is particularly concerning, as most residents take numerous medications, which significantly increases the potential for adverse events. Because some medications are processed more slowly in older adults, an adverse effect could linger for days. Moreover, certain common drugs that affect cognitive and muscular function, such as antihistamines, can increase the risk of falls.

In post-acute and long-term care (PALTC), it often takes an interdisciplinary team of specialists to evaluate risks and prevent falls in residents. Understanding the broad impact that medications have on seniors requires expertise from a pharmacist who specializes in the complex effects of aging on drug metabolism.

A recent report from a life care community in California documents how their clinical team worked together with a consultant pharmacist to conduct root-cause and situational analyses of falls to develop more effective, proactive recommendations and prevention strategies.

As a member of the falls-prevention team, the consultant pharmacist’s unique expertise and perspective ensures that nuanced pharmacological causes are included for consideration and addressed appropriately to help lower risk. This not only helps prevent accidents and injuries, but it can also facilitate residents’ mobility, functioning, and quality of life.

These pharmacists bring a critical tool to the table: the medication regimen review. Wholistic evaluation of drug regimens ― including vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter products ― allow pharmacists to identify and prevent medication-related issues, help identify alternative treatments that may be better suited for seniors, optimize outcomes, and facilitate deprescribing.

Although mandated only in skilled nursing, the clinical value provided by consultant pharmacists and the medication regimen review process can be just as significant in residential care settings as well, helping to reduce hospitalizations, delay progression of acuity, and allow seniors to age in place longer.

Click here to read more or to download a tip sheet on Medications Linked to Falls.