As we age, many of us take more medications, including over-the-counter products and herbal supplements.  Some of these medications, used alone or along with other medications, can contribute to a fall by reducing mental alertness or causing dizziness or a change in blood pressure.

Medications such as sleeping pills, anti-depressants, anti‑hypertensives and painkillers can make you drowsy and lightheaded and can affect your balance. Taking three or more medications a day can also increase your risk of falling. Medications should be reviewed regularly by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to reduce the risk of side effects and interactions that can make you more likely to fall.

To manage your medications and reduce your risk of falling:

Report side effects right away – Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if your medication causes any unwanted side effects – especially if you feel confused, drowsy, dizzy, light-headed, unsteady, or if you have blurred or double vision.

Take an active role when choosing your medications  – Before taking any medication, including over-the-counter products, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to make sure it is the best medication for you.

Keep an up-to-date list of the medications you take – Know why you are taking each medication on your list, the names of your medications and what they look like.

Ask questions and learn about your medications – Your pharmacist, doctor or nurse can help you understand what the medication is for, how to use it, possible side effects and what to do if you have a side effect. You may also be advised to limit your use of alcohol since it may interact with your medications.

Get your medications reviewed regularly – Review your medications with your pharmacist, doctor or nurse every 6 to 12 months to make sure you are taking the right medications and dosage, and to reduce side effects and interactions between medications.

For more information on medications contact your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.