Study Finds Link To Nursing Home Falls and Antidepressants

According to a recent study by the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife (an affiliate of Harvard Medical School), nursing home residents taking certain antidepressant medications are at an increased risk of falling in the days following the start of a new prescription or a dose increase of their current drug.  The study found that nursing home residents are five times more likely to fall within two days of a new prescription for or an increased dose of a some antidepressants.

The findings suggest that nursing home staff should closely monitor residents following a prescription change to prevent potential falls. The risk of falls, lead author Sarah D. Berry, M.D., M.P.H. says, certain antidepressants, can cause postural hypotension, a dramatic decrease in blood pressure upon standing, sedation and coordination problems that may all lead to falls.

According to some estimates, more than one-third of the country's nearly 1.6 million nursing home residents take some type of antidepressant medication.  In light of her findings, says Dr. Berry, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, "nursing home staff should keep a watchful eye on residents in the days following an antidepressant change to prevent falls and clinicians should avoid making changes on weekends or during times when unfamiliar staff is present." For more, read the story.



Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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