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Falls and medicines - Stay On Your Feet

Why are medications a risk factor?

 Icon showing medicines informationThere is strong evidence that falls risk is increased by medications which act on the central nervous system, such as those used to treat depression, sleep disorders and anxiety. A study provides strong evidence that withdrawal from these medications is effective in reducing falls 71,136 and also reduces falls risk by 66% 71,136. However, within one month of the study, 81% of participants resumed their use of these types of medications, which complicates these findings 71,136. For those using these medications to assist with sleep disorders and anxiety related health issues, there is a need for longer term support and use of non-pharmacological alternatives such as relaxation, reducing caffeine intake, increasing physical activity and meditation in the first instance.

Quality use of medicines

With nine in ten older Australians taking at least one type of medication in any fortnight, quality use of medicines involves making sure prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamin and mineral supplements, and herbal and natural therapies medicines are prescribed and taken correctly. Quality use of medicines also works to ensure that all Australians have equitable access to high quality, safe and effective medicines and that any adverse effects are minimised. In Queensland, there are a number of community and professional stakeholders working within the quality use of medicines framework which offers potential for local partnerships.

What works

  • Withdrawal from medication affecting the central nervous system (where possible)
  • Use of non-pharmacological alternatives (where possible)
  • Quality use of medicines - correct prescription and use

Who can help older people with their medication?

  • Doctor
  • Pharmacist
  • Medicines Line: Telephone 1300 888 763 (cost of a local call)
  • The National Prescribing Service (funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing) provides accurate, balanced, evidence-based information and services to help people choose if, when and how to use medicines to improve their health and wellbeing.

Screening tools

  • Medication reviews

Research on falls and medication

Research articles on falls and medication from the Queensland Stay On Your Feet® community good practice guidelines.

Resources related to falls and medication

To find out more about risk factors

For more in-depth information about falls risk factors, risk awareness, risk screening and assessment methods, refer to the Queensland Stay On Your Feet® Community Good Practice Guidelines.

Last updated: 16 June 2022