Falling and sleep

This week Age Scotland was asked to comment on sleeping prescriptions and hospital beds.  Doug Anthoney reports.

Doctor explaining patient on hospital bed

The potential for some prescriptions for sleeping problems to increase falls risks for older people was in the news this week.   Common treatments for insomnia, including Benzodiazepines such as temazepam, can cause drowsiness during the day, particularly in older people who are already at increased risk of falls. They can also lead to drug dependence. Some experts have called for increased use of Circadin instead, which was licensed in 2007.  It uses a slow release form of the hormone melatonin to regulate sleeping patterns is not associated with falls risks.

As falls account for seven in ten fatal accidents in people aged over 65, and more than half of all injuries, we said that any side-effects of sleeping treatments that make falls more likely should to be taken very seriously.  Older patients and GPs should be made fully aware of risk factors associated with drowsiness, so that they can make informed choices with regard to sleep-related prescriptions.

This week we were again asked to comment on a reduction in hospital beds in Scotland.  We said that yes, this could be a problem, as it’s essential that older people who need high quality hospital care get it. However the figures might also show that the Government’s efforts to reshape care are paying off, as more older with chronic conditions get the care they need to remain in their own homes.  If this is the case, the figures would represent a successful outcome that reflects what older people consistently tell us is there preference.

For us, the crux of the matter is that services and support available outside of acute care settings genuinely meet the needs of individuals, otherwise there is a risk that emergency hospital admissions will continue to rise and needs not be met.

Doug Anthoney is Age Scotland Communication and Campaigns Officer.  This post is part of the ‘Tomorrow’s Fish and Chip paper’ article series reporting the hot topics Age Scotland has been discussing with the media each week, and the Charity’s response.

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