Nursing home risk: Dementia patients taking antidepressants fall more

Nursing home risk: Dementia patients taking antidepressants fall more

Falls are a major safety risk in nursing homes, and a new study has found dementia patients in nursing homes taking antidepressants and sedatives are at an even higher risk of falling.

The study, published in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found nursing home residents with dementia who take average doses of commonly used antidepressants called selected seratonin reuptate inhibitors (SSRIs) are three times more likely to have a fall with an injury than those not taking the drugs, according to a Wiley-Blackwell news release.

Some brand names of SSRIs include Lexapro, Prozac, Sarafem, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Pexeva.

The link was seen in those taking low doses and increased for those taking high doses. The study also found the risk of a fall with an injury increased more if patients were also given a hypnotic or sedative medication such as a sleeping pill, according to the news release.

About 1,800 nursing home residents die in falls each year and others often survive falls with hip and head injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC lists the top causes of nursing home falls as:
—  Muscle weakness and walking or gait problems.
—  Environmental hazards in nursing homes, such as wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.
— Medications, especially those affecting the central nervous system. Fall risk is higher in the three days following a change these medicines.
— Other causes such as difficulty in moving from one place to another, poor foot care, poorly fitted shoes and improper or incorrect use of walking aids.

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