They’re currently recognized to result in a number of short-term side-effects, such as memory loss and confusion, but new research suggests several of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) may now be Alzheimer’s risk factors.
The research involved two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were prescribed a minimum of one (and up to six) strong anticholinergic medications. Taking into account other known dementia risk factors, the results were a surprising 50% increased risk of dementia in those who were taking strong anticholinergics every day for three or more years, with the most notable risk to men and women who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.
It’s important to note that there was no correlation observed between dementia and other varieties 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 very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” according to Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also emphasized that people currently prescribed these medications must not stop taking them suddenly, which can cause a great deal more harm.
The suggestion is for any individual concerned about these meds as potential Alzheimer’s risk factors to speak with his / her physicians to consider the advantages against any possible disadvantages, and to explore alternative means of treatment whenever possible. For instance, those taking medications for help with sleeping – something that has become significantly widespread in seniors – can take into consideration behavioral changes and a more therapeutic perspective over insomnia medications.
And no matter what prescriptions a senior takes, appropriate medication management is crucial – a thing that’s easier said than done with many senior loved ones taking multiple medications in various doses at different times of the day. Harmony Home Health & Hospice can provide the medication management services needed to ensure older adults take the right medications at the right time – each time.
Our uniquely trained and experienced caregiving team is also on hand to provide creative, compassionate, effective care strategies to greatly help decrease the challenging facets of dementia, resulting in a better quality of life both for seniors and their loved ones. Contact the most trusted home health aides in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE at any time to learn more.