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Palo Alto Home Care - Drugs That May Affect Seniors' Memory

by Amy, March 25, 2016

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Most people think memory issues are something that naturally happen as we grow older. Many people, including those who are not seniors, aren't aware that many prescription medications can cause memory loss. What's especially troubling is that some medications have been linked to worsening of dementia symptoms. If you are a senior or care for an aging loved one, you'll be interested to learn about certain drugs that may contribute to memory loss or even the development of Alzheimer's.

Essentially, many of the drugs that are commonly used for various problems alter brain function. These include:

Benzodiazepines - Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), Restoril (temazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) are typically used for anxiety issues and to help with sleep, however they have been associated with developing dementia, and are extremely habit-forming. Additionally, benzodiazepines can increase the risk of falling in seniors.

Prescription sedatives that are an alternative to benzodiazepines may also impair balance and thinking. These medications include Lunesta (eszopiclone), Ambien (zolpiderm), and Sonata (zaleplon).

Mood-stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs are generally prescribed by doctors to help manage the challenging behaviors in dementia and Alzheimer's patients. These medications include Risperdal (risperidone), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Abilify (aripiprazole), Depakote (valproate), and Seroquel (quetiapine), among others.

Anticholinergics include both prescription and OTC sleeping medications, and according to studies may be linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's because these drugs block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. These drugs include Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and other sedating antihistamines, Tylenol, Nyquil, and other OTC drugs that include the "PM" on the label, as these medications typically contain a sedating antihistamine ingredient.

Other anticholinergics that may pose a risk include Detrol and Ditropan, medications for overactive bladder, Flexaril and other muscle relaxants, Phenergan and medications designed to reduce nausea, vertigo, or motion sickness, and again Benadryl or Vistaril, usually used to control itching.

In some cases, an alternative to drugs that may impact brain function may be effective. Some patients benefit from behavioral therapies, and others may benefit from alternative drugs. Essentially, a properly functioning brain is critical for maintaining quality of life and independence for seniors.

As a trusted Palo Alto home care services provider, we urge anyone who takes the above medications on a regular basis to discuss possible alternatives with your doctor or pharmacist. For all of your in home caregiver needs, contact Care Indeed today.