They’re already understood to cause various short-term unwanted side effects, such as memory issues and confusion, but new research links some of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to an increased risk factor for dementia.
The research included two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were provided at least one (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Considering other established dementia risk factors, the results were an astonishing 50% higher risk of dementia in men and women who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the largest risk to persons who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.
It’s critical to notice that there was no correlation discovered between dementia and other varieties of anticholinergics (such as antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).
While these findings do not prove anticholinergics as an underlying cause for dementia, at the very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” said Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medicines should not stop taking them abruptly, which may cause even more harm.
The recommendation is for any person worried about this possible link to talk to his or her health care professionals to consider the benefits against any potential risks, and to explore alternative means of treatment whenever possible. For instance, individuals taking medications for assistance with sleeping – something that has grown to become significantly widespread in the elderly – can contemplate behavioral changes and a far more therapeutic perspective over sleep disorder medications.
And whatever the prescriptions a senior loved one takes, proper medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with a lot of older adults taking multiple medications in various doses at differing times during the day. Midnight Sun Home Care’s medication reminder services are well suited to make certain that seniors take the right medications at the right time – every time.
Our specially trained and experienced Anchorage memory care team is also on hand to provide unique, caring, effective care strategies to greatly minimize the challenging components of the disease, creating an increased quality of life for both seniors and their loved ones. Contact us online or at (907) 677-7890 any time for more information about our Anchorage memory care help for seniors.