Sedatives often prescribed as sleep aids and medications used to treat mood disorders might be behind increasing number of falls in elderly, finds a new study.
Falling and fall-related complications such as hip fractures are the fifth leading cause of death in the developed world.
The anti-depressants have been found to have strongest association with falling, possibly because older drugs in this class have significant sedative properties.
Moreover, anti-psychotics/neuroleptics often used to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses and benzodiazepines such as valium were also significantly associated with falls.
"Elderly people may be more sensitive to drugs' effects and less efficient at metabolizing medications, leading to adverse events, which in turn lead to falls," said principal investigator Carlo Marra, a UBC associate professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
"These findings reinforce the need for judicious use of medications in elderly people at risk of falling.
"Safer alternatives, such as counseling, shorter-term or less-sedating therapies, may be more appropriate for certain conditions," Marra added.
The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.