They are currently known to cause quite a few short-term negative effects, such as memory issues and confusion, but new research links several of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (like those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a considerably elevated dementia risk.
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 given at least one (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Taking into consideration other known dementia risk factors, the outcomes were a surprising 50% greater risk of dementia in persons 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 important to see that there was no correlation discovered between dementia and other kinds of anticholinergics (for example, antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).
Even though 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,” said Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medications must not discontinue taking them suddenly, which could cause even more harm.
The suggestion is for any person concerned about this possible link to talk with his / her physicians to consider the benefits against any possible risks, and to look into alternative means of treatment whenever possible. For example, individuals taking medications for help with sleeping – something that has started to become more and more widespread in the elderly – can contemplate behavioral changes and a more therapeutic strategy over sleep medications.
And whatever medications a senior loved one takes, appropriate medication management is crucial – easier said than done with many seniors taking multiple medications in several doses at different points during the day. Home Sweet Home’s medication reminder services are ideal to make sure older adults take the correct medications at the proper time – every time.
Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also readily available to provide creative, caring, effective care strategies to help decrease the challenging components of the disease, contributing to a higher quality of life for seniors and their families. Reach out to us at any time to learn more about our top-rated home care assistance Michigan families trust.