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>Numerous factors are associated with an increased risk of falling and fall-related injuries, but none is as potentially preventable or reversible as medication use. Older persons use approximately 30 percent of all prescription and over-the-counter medications sold in the U.S. On average community-dwelling seniors use 4.9 prescription medications and those with three or more chronic conditions use 6.3 prescription medications at one time. In addition to the actual number of medications taken, certain therapeutic categories of medications commonly prescribed to older adults that cause side effects, adverse effects, and toxic effects increase the likelihood of falling.

This presentation discusses medications and medication classes that have been shown to increase the risk of falling and explores strategies that professionals in the aging network can use to reduce the risk of falls associated with medication use among older adults living at home. These strategies include understanding and monitoring for common side effects and adverse effects that might cause an older person to fall; educating older persons and their caregivers about medications and falls; and working with other health care professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, to reduce falls associated with certain high risk medications.

Learning Objectives

  1. To describe medication-related problems (MRPs) and explain why older adults are at high risk
  2. To identify medication classes and specific medications that increase the risk of falls among older adults
  3. To list common side effects and adverse effects of medications that increase the risk of falls among older adults and monitor for these side effects/adverse effects in an effort to reduce falls risk
  4. To describe why proper adherence to certain medications can decrease falls risk
  5. To apply medication-related strategies from evidence-based fall prevention guidelines into practice
  6. To review specific interventions related to medication use that can decrease falls risk for older adults living at home

This course is accessible on the Philips Lifeline Learning Center website at

Note: Approved provider of continuing education for LCSW licensure requirements in California.

Note: This program is not accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association due to their policies.

Note: As of 7/31/10 nursing CE's will not be available for nurses licensed in DE, RI, and UT.

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