Healthcare providers typically consider the above-65 age group to be at an increased risk of falls, and with good reason. However, younger or middle-aged adults are also at a heightened risk of slip, trip and fall accidents that could result in serious personal injury.
Those results come from a new study conducted by Yale researchers who took data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study. The researchers identified approximately 13,000 fall accidents, and found that a significant number of these falls involved persons in their 50’s.
According to the researchers, the increased risk of falls involving middle-aged adults in their 50s could be linked to their dependence on prescription medication. Typically, these people are on more than one prescription medication, and these medications can interact with each other, causing side effects like drowsiness, blurred vision or confusion, increasing the risk of a fall. For instance, the researchers found that many falls involved persons who had been prescribed anti-anxiety drugs, which are commonly used by persons in this age group. Muscle relaxants, anti-insomnia drugs and opioid painkillers are also heavily used by this age category, and these medications are also linked with an increased risk of falls.
The researchers also found that persons who are on HIV medications also have a higher risk of falls. These persons typically take several medications for their condition, and their medication program typically begins at a younger age.
The researchers conclude that programs designed to reduce the risk of fall accidents should include not just seniors, but also middle-aged adults as well, in order to be successful.
If you are in your 50’s, and are on prescription medications, discuss the side effects of the drugs with your doctor. Many of the medications that are prescribed for middle-aged persons do involve drowsiness or sleepiness as side effects. Blurred vision and fatigue are also common side effects.
Recognize that as you get older, your balance and gait may not be as strong as they were in your thirties. Exercise regularly, and invest in strength-building exercise programs that enhance balance. Limit your intake of alcohol and drugs since these further increase the risk of suffering a fall accident, especially if combined with your medications.