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Some Common Medications Might Not Be Safe for Seniors

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- October is Talk About Prescriptions month, and now would be a good time for seniors to look in their medicine cabinets to determine if any of their current prescriptions could be a medication risk.

Medications can improve quality of life for people living with health conditions, but sometimes, medications can cause problems. For older adults, the medications of most common concern are those that can increase the risk of falling if the dose is too high or the medication is used improperly.

As we age, our bodies absorb and process some medications differently than they did when we were younger. We may also develop increased sensitivity to certain medications, which can produce unwanted side effects.

The following medications are known to increase the risk of falls when used by older adults.

  • Medications used to treat anxiety: Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Medications used to treat coughing and allergies: Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Phenergan (promethazine), Chlorpheniramine
  • Medications used to relax muscles: Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine), Bentyl (dicyclomine), Levsin (hyoscyamine)
  • Medications used to treat depression: Elavil (amitriptyline), Sinequan (doxepin)

If you're taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor about whether you still need the medications and about the possibility of using another medication in its place.

About the Expert

Dr. Judith S. Black has been medical director for senior markets at Highmark Inc. since 1998. A practicing geriatrician with 35 years of medical experience, she provides the medical expertise that helps Highmark enhance and coordinate the care of older adults. A longtime advocate of appropriate end-of-life care, Dr. Black has forged several community and physician collaborative programs to raise awareness of these issues and started Highmark's education program for members.

For more information, visit

SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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