A fall may damage more than a person’s pride. We may know someone who’s been injured, disabled or even killed by a fall. As one ages, time takes its toll on the organs and systems in our bodies. Age-related conditions that may affect our balance include diabetes, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), memory loss and confusion (dementia), Parkinson’s disease, stroke and numerous conditions affecting the nervous system and thyroid. Eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, and joint diseases such as arthritis may severely restrict mobility. Since osteoporosis weakens bones, it increases the risk of serious injuries from a fall, and may even cause a fall if the bones are so thin that one breaks spontaneously.
Many medications have side effects that can affect brain function and lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Examples include some medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, allergy, insomnia, excess stomach acid and depression. Taking multiple medications; or combining prescription drugs with alcohol, or with over-the-counter antihistamines, sleeping medications, painkillers or cough suppressants; magnifies the risk. Pharmacists can help explain the medications that tend to carry the most risk.