August 19, 2019
They’re currently recognized to create various short-term unwanted side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, but new memory care research links several of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (like those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a considerably increased risk for dementia.
The study involved two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. Approximately 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were given one or more (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Taking into account other established dementia risk factors, the results were an astonishing 50% greater chance of dementia in men and women who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the most notable risk to those who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.
It’s crucial to see that there was no correlation found between dementia and other kinds of anticholinergics (such as antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).
Even though these findings do not prove anticholinergics as a 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 must not cease taking them suddenly, which may cause additional harm.
The recommendation is for any person concerned about this potential link to talk with his or her doctors to weigh the advantages against any possible risks, and to investigate alternative means of treatment when possible. For instance, those taking medications for help with sleeping – something that has started to become more and more common in older adults – can take into consideration behavioral changes and a more therapeutic perspective over sleep disorder medications.
And no matter what medications a senior takes, proper medication management is important – something that’s easier said than done with a lot of seniors taking multiple medications in several doses at different times of the day. Continuum medication reminder services are well suited to ensure older adults take the correct medications at the right time – each time.
Our specially trained and knowledgeable St. Louis Alzheimer’s care team is also readily available to provide unique, effective care strategies to greatly help decrease the difficult aspects of the disease, contributing to a higher quality of life for both seniors and their loved ones. Reach out to us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 at any time to find out more.