Caring Currents

Falling Down and Feeling Down: What's the Connection?

Last updated: Jun 26, 2008

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Researchers from Down Under have discovered that older folks who are depressed are more likely to take a topple than those who feel relatively chipper -- and seniors who take meds to deal with their depression are at even greater risk for falling down and getting injured that those who don't.

If your parents are prone to blue moods, these stats will make you want to watch their steps:

  • People with depression taking antidepressants -- especially the commonly-prescribed kind known as SSRIs -- are 50 percent more likely to take a spill than other old folks.
  • In women over 80 with depression on an SSRI, the numbers jump to 60 percent.
  • Those with any degree of depression were up to 70 percent more likely to have multiple falls and injury than those who weren't feeling low.

Yikes! What to do if your parents are in the doldrums? First, find out if they're taking any drugs to deal with their depression; if so, you'll want to be extra vigilant to ensure they don't have a fall.

Either way, you can plan to minimize their risks. Think leg strengthening and balance training exercises for your parent, as well as completing a home assessment plan to reduce hazards, such as ensuring adequate lighting, removing potentially dangerous obstacles like throw rugs, and installing grab rails in the bathroom.

I'm curious: Would you have suspected a connection between stumbles and sadness?

Image by Flickr user D'arcy Norman used under the Creative Commons attribution license.