Shocking New Statistics for Medication-Related Senior Falls

woman speaking with a female medical professional via video chatWe’ve known for a long time that there are specific medications that increase the risk of senior falls. 20 years ago, only a little over 1/2 of older adults were impacted by that risk; yet now, that number has increased significantly – to a staggering 94% of seniors who are now in danger of falling as a result of medication side effects. In addition, deaths from such falls are taking place at more than twice the previous rate.

Researchers who identified this growing concern also found that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled more than 7.8 billion times. This consists of a spike from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to greater than 52 million in 2017.

The analysis does not specifically identify these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but indicates the requirement for additional exploration into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik in the geriatric medicine division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”

It is important for older adults and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the conditions that necessitate these medications and preventing additional complications from a fall.

Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the research study, explains, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”

Medications that are specifically connected with fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, psychosis, and pain, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are being affected by the highest spike in fall-related deaths.

One step seniors can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to follow through with any recommended safety measures. Generations at Home is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at your convenience. We can also help with fall prevention through:

  • Making sure that prescription drugs are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Aiding in safe walking and transfers
  • Encouraging seniors to engage in physician-approved exercise programs to strengthen balance, flexibility, and strength
  • And much more

For additional information about our home care services and to schedule a complimentary assessment, reach out to us at 727-940-3414!

Senior Care Tips to Safely Dispose of Expired/Unwanted Medications

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the labelWith so many seniors taking multiple prescriptions, and with health care professionals adding and changing medications and dosages to discover just the right solutions, it is crucial to understand what to do with prescription drugs which are no longer needed or which have expired. There are several options:

  • Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature may provide instructions on how to safely get rid of the drug. You can also consult with the pharmacist for suggestions.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the preferred way to properly dispose of unwanted medications, and it is organized annually in locations across the country by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Discover the location closest to you and the next date for the event.
  • Exercise care before flushing. Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet is typically not advised, but there are particular exceptions, listed in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently deemed acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Camouflage when disposing. Many medications can be discarded with normal garbage, if guidelines are taken to prevent animals from unintentionally eating them or from anyone looking for drugs to locate and ingest them. The FDA suggests combining the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a sealed plastic bag prior to adding to your household trash bag.
  • Take off identifying information. Be sure to scratch out and/or shred any private information to protect the older adult’s identity and to safeguard against anyone who is unauthorized from finding the prescription container and getting a refill of the medication.

For more assistance with medications, including medication reminders to make sure older adults take prescription medications just as advised by the health care provider, reach out to the aging care professionals at Generations at Home, the experts in home care in Clearwater and surrounding areas. We’re also available to assist with a wide array of aging care needs in the home that improve wellbeing for senior loved ones, such as:

  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light household chores
  • Companionship to engage in enjoyable activities and conversations
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • Running errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And a whole lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to let us know more in regards to the challenges a senior loved one is facing, for more senior care tips, and to request a free in-home consultation to allow us to share more about how we can help.

Learn the Top Medication Dangers for Seniors

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

A recently available study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that an astonishing 87% take a minimum of one prescription drug, and a staggering 36% are taking five or more – together with 38% using over-the-counter meds on an everyday basis. Managing these medications in our older years can be extremely difficult, and there are a number of risks and dangers which can occur in the process.

As specialists in home care in Pinellas County, Generations at Home’s caregiving team helps seniors ensure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It is also vitally important to be familiar with common problems older adults encounter with using their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:

In some cases, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy doctors may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to determine if adjustment is needed; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.

Adverse reactions could very well be even more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular issue are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the likelihood of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be especially on guard about consist of anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Speak with your physician if any of these medications are prescribed for an older relative and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.

Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a challenge. Remembering that one specific med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it tremendously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, such as Generations at Home, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a particular prescription is high, older adults may well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a very risky behavior. Seniors can instead consult with their physicians about generic versions of medications, or any other ways to keep cost at a minimum.

Be informed on potential interactions with other meds. Bring the full listing of all of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a health care provider or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who is able to make sure the drugs can safely be taken in combination with each other. Remember to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be discussed with his / her health care provider.

Contact Generations at Home in Pinellas County at 727-940-3414 to get more medication management tips, as well as professional hands-on help with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.

The Surprising New Recommendations Related to Low Blood Sugar and Senior Diabetics

Senior Couple Enjoying Meal At Home Passing Food Smiling

The latest recommendations from the Endocrine Society regarding the elderly and diabetes are surprising, to say the least: lower blood sugar isn’t always best. And for those who’ve been maintaining a regimen of finger pricks, insulin injections, and careful monitoring of food intake, this change of course may be a bit hard to swallow.

Known as de-intensification, geriatricians are now often taking the approach with older adults that the benefits to be gained by striving for strict blood sugar control aren’t outweighing the health risks inherent with aging and illness. When A1c and glucose levels are kept at very low levels in the elderly, for instance, it can lead to an increased frequency of hypoglycemia and even kidney failure.

With as many as one in three seniors currently diagnosed with diabetes, these new guidelines are poised to have a staggering impact on the treatment and management of the disease for older adults, requiring a shift in mindset for many.

And not surprisingly, many older diabetics are reluctant to embrace this change. In one patient’s words to Dr. Pei Chen, a geriatrician at the geriatric clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. You don’t need to tell me what to do. I can handle it.”

The new guidelines recommend an increase in A1c from 7 to 7.5% for older adults who are in good health; and up to 8 – 8.5% for those with dementia, multiple chronic illnesses, or poor health. It’s important to note, however, that recommendations are highly individualized based on a variety of factors, and that at no time should high blood sugar be ignored in the elderly.

Generations at Home can help older adults adhere to doctors’ recommendations to manage diabetes and a variety of other conditions with professional, customized, in-home care services for seniors. Just a few of the many ways we can help include:

  • Grocery shopping to ensure the senior has plenty of healthy food options readily available
  • Meal planning and preparation in adherence to any prescribed dietary plans
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
  • Encouragement to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs
  • Medication reminders to ensure prescriptions are taken at the proper time and in the correct dose
  • And more!

Contact us online or at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home assessment and discover a healthier lifestyle for a senior you love.

Why Seniors Should Avoid Using Sleep Medications

Senior man in bed looking at clock

Learn why seniors should avoid sleep medications in this article from the home care provider St. Petersburg, FL families trust.

What could possibly be better than waking up well rested after a great night’s sleep, completely energized and ready to face a new day? For a lot of older adults – as many as one third of them – getting adequate sleep only occurs in their dreams. And sadly, it is a common assumption that inadequate sleep is actually something to be accepted in our later years – a misconception that Preeti Malani, M.D., chief health officer and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, hopes to dispel.

According to Dr. Malani, “If older adults believe that these changes are a normal, inevitable part of aging, they may not think of it as something to discuss with their doctor. And not discussing it can potentially lead to health issues not being identified and managed.”

Rather than merely tossing and turning, nearly 40% of seniors with insomnia issues are depending on sleeping medications – something which is frequently risky once we get older. Sleeping meds double the likelihood of falls and bone injuries in the elderly, due to the increased dizziness and disorientation they are able to cause. Seniors may also be susceptible to becoming dependent on these kinds of medications. And, the chance for motor vehicle collisions can also be increased, according to Consumer Reports’ Choosing Wisely campaign.

Additionally the concern about sleeping medications extends to herbal solutions and supplements as well, which place seniors at risk for many different additional unwanted effects. Even something as seemingly innocuous as melatonin can interact with other common prescriptions, such as those for diabetes and raised blood pressure, and also cause dizziness and nausea.

Step one in addressing sleep concerns for seniors is to speak with a physician to rule out any underlying conditions (such as for instance depression, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, or even heart problems, to mention a few) and to receive his / her recommendations on how exactly to safely improve sleep. Several safer alternatives include:

  • Restrict alcohol and caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening
  • Keep all electronic devices away from the bedroom, and keep the sleeping environment dark and cool
  • Set a sleeping pattern and stay with it, sleeping and waking up at the same time every day
  • Engage the services of a sleep therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy

Generations at Home can help in many ways as well. Our fully trained and experienced in-home caregivers can certainly help seniors stay active during the day with exercise programs, fun outings, and much more, setting the stage for a significantly better night’s sleep. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.