Warning: These Common Medications May Increase Dementia Risk

Warning: These Common Medications May Increase Dementia Risk

Certain medications may now be linked to an increased dementia risk.

They are currently recognized to cause various short-term side-effects, for example, memory issues and confusion, but new research links some of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (like those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly higher dementia risk. 

The research involved two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. Approximately 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were supplied a minimum of one (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Considering other established dementia risk factors, the outcomes were an astounding 50% increased risk of dementia in individuals who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the highest risk to people who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

It is critical to note that there was no correlation observed between dementia and other types of anticholinergics (for example, antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications). 

Even while these findings do not prove anticholinergics as an underlying cause for dementia, at the minimum, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” stated Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medications should not cease taking them abruptly, which could cause even more harm.

The suggestion is for any individual worried about this prospective link to talk with his/her medical professionals to weigh the benefits against any possible risks, and to look into alternative means of treatment whenever possible. For example, people taking medications for assistance with sleeping – something that has started to become significantly widespread in the elderly – can take into consideration behavioral changes and a more therapeutic approach over sleep medications. 

And no matter what prescriptions a senior takes, appropriate medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with a lot of older adults taking multiple medications in various doses at different times during the day. Hired Hands Homecare’s medication reminder services are ideal to be sure that older adults take the right medications at the right time – every time. 

Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also on hand to provide creative, effective care strategies to help reduce the difficult aspects of the disease, ultimately causing a higher quality of life both for seniors and their loved ones. Contact our experts in elder care in Pleasanton and the neighboring areas either online or at (866) 940-4343 any time for more information.

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