New findings of risks with meds popular with seniors

Two of my blog posts in the past week have dealt with medications frequently used by seniors and the serious risks they pose.

•A new study finds that anticholinergic medications carry irreversible risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Drugs that fall into this class include tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, meds used to treat overactive bladders, and -- of special interest to me -- over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids like the Tylenol PM that I used and abused for many years. See

•New guidelines have been issued for doctors to use in prescribing statins, the cholesterol – lowering meds. The guidelines, which would greatly increase the number of seniors given these drugs, have been found flawed and many medical authorities think statins pose more risk than benefit for seniors. See

14 Replies

  • Anti cholinergocs seem to be more popular with doctors in some countries than in others. They are used lees often in the UK than in the USA I believe.

  • I think the UK is less pill-obsessed than the US in general.

  • I'm not this is true but I do read posts of people in America who are reluctant to take Parkinson's medication yet ask for advice about cough mixtures and preparations for colds.

    I think some people in the USA are embarrassed by their tremor and that is where the anticholinergics come in.

    Of course, my vast experience is gleaned from that wonderful source, Facebook. So, not sure about the validity of of anything I've just claimed!

  • My pro-Brit response may have resulted from my current read -- Citizens of London--The Americans Who Stood With Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour. I'm a confirmed Anglophile but this reminder of the 1940-41 years kicked it up a notch.

  • re: "people in America who are reluctant to take Parkinson's medication"

    (1. Neupro will cost $400 USD / month

    (2. Cough medicine generally does not cause hallucinations or dyskinesia.


  • Cough medicine does not help Parkinson's symptoms, but I see where you are coming from.

  • I did not "Cough medicine does not help Parkinson's symptoms" So all know where I am coming from.

    (3. As each med is only effective a few years requiring doubling dose and adding other meds, it is better to delay prescription meds. Thereby delaying compounding symptoms, PD plus meds.

  • Roy, does that eventual doubling of doses include anti-seizure meds, such as zonisamide? Is it the nature of Parkinson's that any and all drug lose their effectiveness over time, faster than in non-PD folks?

  • I believe that about P meds, yes, that any and all drugs lose their effectiveness over time

  • Thanks. Zonisamide is an anti-convulsant that has been used to treat epilepsy, but was discovered in subsequent studies to relieve tremors in PD patients as well. Sounds like it's wise to delay all Rx drugs for as long as possible.

  • RoyProp, I did know cough medicine does not help Parkinson's. I'm sorry, that was my irony. I really meant to say that coughs are limited in duration so no medicine is actually needed. However, Parkinson's is progressive and drugs will eventually be needed to improve the quality of life of the diagnosed person.

  • Statins probaly cause Parkinson's and Alzheimer's by lowering cholesterol which is vital for brain and nerve health. About 70% of the brain is made of cholesterol.

  • One important group of medications that is mentioned in your blog but not in your above post, is "Antiparkinson Medications: benztropine (Cogentin), trihexyphenidyl (Artane)"

    My mum was on trihexyphenidyl (branded as benzhexol), for a very long time. She now has dementia, which may or many not have happened without this medication - I know it's impossible to tell. But when she first suffered from hallucinations, around five years ago, the consultant drastically lowered her dose, and the hallucinations disappeared for several years.

    They did come back again recently with her general dementia, which seems to follow the Lewy body pattern. Who knows whether the trihexyphenidyl hastened the dementia or even caused it. I suspect she would have had it anyway, since it seems the kind linked to the disease, but maybe without it it would have come later or not been so severe. Like I say, we can't tell for sure, but it's an interesting study.

  • I should point out that she's now no longer on these tablets, but the dementia remains.

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