August 21, 2019 by Dean Bellefeuille

dementia risk

They are currently understood to cause various short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, but new research links a number of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly increased risk 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 given a minimum of one (and up to 6) potent anticholinergic medications. Considering other established risk factors for dementia, the outcomes were an astounding 50% higher chance of dementia in persons who were taking strong anticholinergics every day for three or more years, with the largest risk to those who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

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

While 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,” said Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medicines must not stop taking them abruptly, which can cause even more harm.

The suggestion is for anybody concerned about this possible link to talk to his / her medical professionals to consider the advantages against any potential risks, and to look into alternative means of treatment whenever possible. For instance, people taking medications for assistance with sleeping – something that has grown to become significantly widespread in older adults – can consider behavioral changes and a more therapeutic strategy over sleep medications.

And regardless of the medications 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 a variety of doses at differing points during the day. At Home Independent Living’s medication reminder services are perfect to ensure seniors take the correct medications at the proper time – every time.

Our highly trained and knowledgeable care team is also readily available to provide creative, caring, effective care strategies to help minimize the difficult aspects of the disease, resulting in a higher quality of life for seniors and their families. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) at any time for more information about our top-rated dementia care Syracuse, NY families trust.