Nearly one out of every three elderly people will experience a fall every year. This can have profound effects on their bones as well as their self confidence.
The elderly also have a higher rate of drug consumption than other people, and recent research shows that there may be a link between benzodiazepine use and loss of balance.
A small double blind, two period cross over study followed 12 non smoking healthy subjects (age 70 years), who were assigned one of two treatment groups, either diazepam or placebo. Those in the drug group, perhaps not surprisingly, experienced more disorientation and slower response times. Benzodiazepines act directly on the central nervous system and, the authors conclude, may be an important risk factor for falls in elderly people (J Am Geriat Soc, 1997, 45: 435-40).