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Are anxiety medications linked to Alzheimer’s?

Posted by Constance Schein, RN
on September 17, 2019
an elderly hand holding white pills.

As the medical community continues to delve further into the field of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment, scientists and doctors have been proposing new potential causes. According to Harvard Health Publishing, reports link two common classes of drugs to dementia. Benzodiazepines and anticholinergics, both which may be used for anxiety and depression, among other conditions, and may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.

What does it mean for seniors?

The ability for our bodies to process medication changes as we get older. Drug levels may remain higher in our body for a longer time as our liver and kidneys take longer to clear drugs through the system. Drugs are also dispersed and broken down differently due to how we gain fat and lose muscle mass as we age. Since we may have more body fat, where the medications are stored, they can have a longer effect than in someone with a less body fat.

The American Geriatrics Society has already been warning health care providers of putting seniors on benzodiazepines, as they can increase the risk of confusion, accidents and dizziness. In fact, as the society reports, falls, hip fractures and car accidents leading to hospitalization and even death can more than double among seniors on benzodiazepines. People with Alzheimer’s may be better off undergoing alternative, natural treatments for anxiety and insomnia, such as therapy, under the recommendation of a health care provider.

If you have a loved one experiencing anxiety and living with dementia discuss all of your options with their physician. Or speak with one of our nurses as the Aegis Living community near you.

Profile image of Constance Schein, RN

Constance Schein, RN

Former Senior Vice President of Clinical and Health Services

Constance Schein is a registered nurse with more than 25 years of nursing experience in senior-focused healthcare organizations. She led Aegis Living’s major nursing and care initiatives and was responsible for managing and developing healthcare partnerships, technology, and wellness programs to improve resident care.

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