by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
According to a recent article in the American Family Physician,
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency departments in the United States, and the primary cause of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65 years.
The article continues, “More than 90% of hip fractures occur as a result of falls, with most of these fractures occurring in persons over 70 years of age.”
Now, notice the risk factors that cause these falls. They include “increasing age, drugs, cognitive impairment and sensory deficit.” (As reported by Jess Dancer, Ed.D., in Advance for Audiologists, Sep. 14, 2007.)
If you investigate carefully, I think you’ll find that drugs are the main culprit. What most people don’t know is that many of the drugs seniors take are ototoxic. One of the side effects of such drugs is that they affect the balance system in the inner ears, and that results in falls.
How bad is this problem? This just crossed my desk.
Each year 32,000 older adults suffer hip fractures, attributable to drug-induced falls, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths.
That’s a lot of broken hips each year just from taking ototoxic drugs.
The report continues,
In one study, the main categories of drugs responsible for the falls leading to hip fractures were sleeping pills and minor tranquilizers (30%), anti-psychotic drugs (52%) and antidepressants (17%). All of these drugs are often prescribed unnecessarily, especially in older adults. (As reported in Worst Pills Best Pills News, September, 2007.)
Specifically notice the above sentence. Doctors commonly unnecessarily prescribe these drugs for what are essentially minor problems. The result is major problems such as hip fractures and death.
Therefore, if you want to keep your “pins” under you as you age, go easy on the drugs! Make your doctor justify any drugs he prescribes for you. You want to see that the benefits far outweigh the side effects—and as the above cases so powerfully testify, your doctor may be hard-pressed to do this.