Link Between Medications and Dementia in Escondido

andres-de-armas-103880-copy-300x200Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia make seniors in Escondido much more vulnerable to nursing home abuse and neglect. Indeed, as the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation emphasizes in a recent article, one of the most significant ways of stopping elder abuse is finding a way to prevent the elderly from developing Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, the fewer seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the fewer seniors who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

What can we do to prevent dementia? Since researchers have yet to identify a fully effective treatment for this disease, many have turned to preventing it from occurring in the first place. According to a recent article from Harvard Health Publishing, new research suggests that certain medications could contribute to dementia in elderly patients.

Commonly Used Medications Affect Memory and Learning

Given that the population of seniors will continue to increase significantly in the coming years, researchers predict that dementia will also “become much more common” in the elderly population. A new study suggests that “certain medications may contribute to the risk of developing dementia.” More specifically, the research involved a study of medications that have “anticholinergic effects.” According to the article, “these are drugs that block a chemical messenger called acetylcholine, which affects muscle activity in the digestive and urinary tracts, lungs, and elsewhere in the body.”

At the same time, drugs that have these effects also are “involved in memory and learning.” And such medications are widely used among the elderly population. Indeed, it is possible that as much as 50% of the population of seniors in the country currently take at least one medication that has anticholinergic effects. The drugs typically are used to treat depression or overactive bladder, and as an antihistamine.

Seniors Who Take Medications with Anticholinergic Effects More Likely to Develop Dementia

The authors of the study concluded that people who take medications that have anticholinergic effects are 11% more likely than people who have not taken these drugs to be diagnosed with dementia at a point in the future. The study also showed that some medications have more pronounced anticholinergic effects than others, and the risk of developing dementia increased by about 30% for people who take drugs with the most anticholinergic effects. According to the article, “the largest impact was found for drugs commonly taken for depression, bladder problems, and Parkinson’s disease.”

The study looked at more than 300,000 adults who were aged 65 and older in drawing its conclusions. Does the study mean that seniors should stop taking these medications? The article highlights that more research needs to be done on the topic, and seniors should not simply stop taking a medication because of a single study. However, it could be worth talking to a doctor about these drugs to help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Contact an Escondido Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

In the meantime, if you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s mistreatment at a skilled nursing facility, you should speak with an Escondido nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.

See Related Blog Posts:

Preventing Valley Center Nursing Home Abuse

Addressing Skilled Nursing Discharges in Oceanside

(image courtesy of Andres de Armas)