Common painkillers may increase fall risk in people with cognitive decline

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In a new study from Texas A&M University, researchers found that older adults with cognitive impairment are two to three times more likely to fall compared with those without cognitive impairment.

What’s more, the increasing use of pain medications for chronic pain by older adults adds to their fall risk.

Risks associated with falls include minor bruising to more serious hip fractures, broken bones and even head injuries.

With falls a leading cause of injury for people aged 65 and older, it is an important public health issue to study in order to allow these adults increased safety and independence as they age.

Although the elevated risk of falls due to the use of pain medication by older adults has been widely studied, less is known about how pain medication use affects falls risk of older adults living with cognitive impairment.

In the study, the team examined a national sample to identify the link between pain medication use and falls among older adults based on their cognitive status.

The researchers found that among the 7,491 community-dwelling participants in the study, 8.3% had possible dementia.

People living with dementia took medication for pain more frequently than those with no dementia.

These people were more likely to report at least one fall in the past month and worry about falling down and balance/coordination.

In addition, researchers found an increased likelihood of recent falls was linked to pain medication among persons with probable dementia, and that taking pain medication two days a week or more was also linked to an increased risk of falls among those with probable dementia.

These results support that the risk of falls linked to pain medication is elevated among those with higher levels of cognitive impairment.

The team says the different links of pain medication with falls by cognitive status can be partly explained by the severity of cognitive impairment among older adults.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about choline in meat and eggs may help reduce your risk of dementia and findings of unhealthy blood pressure in middle and late life could increase dementia risk.

For more information about dementia prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about these high blood pressure drugs may protect against Parkinson’s, dementia, Huntington’s, and results showing that walking patterns may help identify specific types of dementia.

The study is published in Age and Ageing. One author of the study is Aya Yoshikawa.

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