Pharmacists key partner in preventing seniors falls

September 22, 2009

What do the Queen Mother, Nancy Reagan, Ed McMahon and Fidel Castro have in common?

They are all seniors who have suffered the serious consequences of a preventable fall. Sadly, thousands of seniors fall every year in Alberta, often with devastating results.  

Finding Balance is an annual information and advocacy campaign focused on reducing the number of falls among seniors in Alberta. It was developed and is led by the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research in the U of A’s School of Public Health and the Alberta Medical Association.

Pharmacists have been important advisors in Finding Balance and will continue to be key front-line contacts in this annual campaign targeting falls among Alberta’s seniors this November.

Medications and falls

Pharmacists have important expertise in the medications and conditions that can increase a senior’s risk of falling.  

Research has shown that certain types of medications are associated with a higher risk of falling. High risk medications include benzodiazepines, antidepressants and neuroleptics.

All medications, including prescription, non-prescription and natural health products should be reviewed annually. Particular attention should be paid to older persons taking four or more medications, those taking psychotropic medications, and those who have had multiple falls and/or an injurious fall. Conditions that are undertreated, such as osteoarthritis, or Parkinson’s Disease, may also contribute to falls.

Finding Balance recommends that seniors talk to their pharmacist or doctor about their medications annually.

Education through pharmacies

Last year, pharmacists distributed more than 120,000 point of sale flyers about falls prevention for older adults. This was achieved through the support and participation of wholesale distributors and chains.

Alberta’s pharmacies and distributors will again be playing a key role by volunteering to distribute the promotional and information material to retail pharmacies throughout the province.

This year, three point of sale flyers will be distributed focusing on the three campaign themes:

·         Check Your Medications – Talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist

·         Keep Active – Exercise for Strength and Balance

·         Watch Your Step – Wherever You Are

All campaign materials are in production and will be distributed in early October.

For more information about the campaign or for campaign materials contact the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research at 780-492-6019 or acicr@ualberta.ca.

Originally published in the September 22, 2009, issue of The Link


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