An older woman who fell

What Role Does Medication Play in Older Adult Falls and Risks?

Two months ago, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, published a report titled: “Review of Impact of Medications on Older Adult Fall and Fire Risk” which identified the relationship between medication use and fall/fire risks for older adults. The research generalizes findings to inform message development for the NFPA Remembering When™ program.

Did you know “Older Adults” is considered 65+? That’s hard to believe because many of us can think of people in our own lives who are so healthy and active yet would fall into this category. So which medications can cause an increased risk of cognitive impairment, falls, and fractures in “older adults”?

Summary findings of the report indicate that antipsychotics (medication used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders), benzodiazepines (class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety, but they also are effective in treating several other conditions), and nonbenzodiazepines (insomnia drugs) can cause an increased risk of cognitive impairment, falls, and fractures in older adults.

Moreover, older adults taking three or more drugs classified as antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics (medication used to prevent seizures), benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, and opioids are indicated to have an increased fall risk.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please see the report page which also contains a one page summary. Also be on the lookout in early 2022 for a podcast on this topic featuring technical panelists and the research team who authored this report!

Sign up for the NFPA Network Newsletter
Jacqueline R. Wilmot, P.E.
Research Project Manager, Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA

Related Articles