Since the year 2000, dementia rates in Americans over age 65 fell from 11.6 percent to 8.8 percent in 2012. This equates to a decline of 24 percent, according to a study of more than 21,000 people across the country. This means there are about one million fewer Americans suffering dementia today. Similar studies found similar results in European countries (Dementia Rates Fall Sharply Among Senior Citizens).
But wait – there’s more:
Multiple studies (see some of them listed below) are also indicating a correlation between dementia and specific types of medications – many commonly available over the counter. Researchers found that some people who used “anticholinergic” drugs were more likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t use them. The more these drugs were used and for longer periods of time appeared to increase the correlation as well. These types of drugs are used by many older adults for diverse conditions, such as overactive bladder, trouble sleeping at night, seasonal allergies, and depression. See the List of Medications below.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the central nervous symptoms from these types of drugs because of age-related changes. Therefore the benefits of these type of drugs must be weighed against the possible side effects by your healthcare provider. If you are prescribed an anticholinergic medication, make sure to ask your healthcare provider before taking any additional over the counter anticholinergic drugs. It is important to note – a correlation between drugs and cognitive decline does NOT definitively prove that one causes the other. There are more questions yet to research further.
As always – make sure to tell your healthcare provider of all medications you are taking – including over the counter ones! DO not change or stop medications/therapy without first consulting with your healthcare provider.
List of Medications: Commonly used drugs with moderate to high anticholinergic properties
Read more about it:
Association Between Anticholinergic Medication Use and Cognition, Brain Metabolism, and Brain Atrophy in Cognitively Normal Older Adults
Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk
Cumulative Use of Strong Anticholinergics and Incident Dementia
Higher dementia risk linked to more use of common drugs
3 Surprising Things That Raise Your Dementia Risk
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