Associations between alcohol use, polypharmacy and falls in older adults: Helen Wong and colleagues report on a cross-sectional study into alcohol consumption, medication use and falls in the community

Helen Wong, Roschelle Heuberger, Jack Logomarsino, Susan Hewlings

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims To describe the prevalence of alcohol intake, medication use and falls, evaluate the association between alcohol intake and medication use, and assess the effects of use of alcohol, medication and/or both on the occurrence of falls. Method Trained interviewers collected information on self-reported frequency of alcohol consumption, medication use and falls in a cross-sectional sample of 2,444 community-dwelling older adults in rural US. Polypharmacy was defined as taking five or more medications. Results Of the sample, 38% consumed alcohol, 83% used medication and 19% had fallen. The ingestion of alcohol was inversely associated with the likelihood of taking medication, but had no statistically significant association with incidence of falls. Analyses with logistic regression indicated that alcohol intake was not a significant predictor of falls. Medication was positively related to, and a significant predictor of, falls. Conclusion Nurses working with older people should be aware of medications that increase the risk of falls. Potentially deleterious falls may be prevented through ongoing risk-benefit assessment of prescribed medicines and, when feasible, use of non-pharmacological interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages30-36
Number of pages7
Volume28
No1
Specialist publicationNursing Older People
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Falls
  • Medication
  • Older people
  • Polypharmacy

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