Everyday Drugs Can Increase Dementia Risk In Seniors

Oct 24 2018

Everyday Drugs Can Increase Dementia Risk In Seniors

Everyday drugs known as anticholinergics, are prescribed to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. But, according to a recent study these drugs can also increase the risk of dementia by an alarming 30%.


In addition to depression and Parkinson’s disease, anticholinergic drugs are also used to treat epilepsy, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, and urinary incontinence.


The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that senior citizens aged 65+ take at least one anticholinergic medication for any one of these chronic illnesses mentioned above.


The chart below lists some common anticholinergc drugs that senior s take to manage their chronic illness.






Drugs: Every Drug Can Have Serious Side Effects


The study analyzed more than 27 million prescriptions, prescribed to seniors age 65 to 99 who were already diagnosed with dementia.

This was compared prescription records of same age seniors without dementia.



Researchers found higher rates of dementia in patients taking anticholinergic antidepressants, urological medications and Parkinson’s medications.


Most alarming, dementia incidences were found up to 20 years after initial exposure to these drugs.

It appears that the key variable here is that while many people take anticholinergic drugs, duration and exposure may trigger dementia onset.


Seniors can take these pills over many years to manage chronic illnesses. Therefore, Physicians should monitor for long-term cognitive side effects and behavioral changes.


A future study to investigate why and how long-term anticholinergic drug use triggers dementia onset would be valuable.

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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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