Q. I am interested in information about preventing dementia.
What drugs should someone avoid to prevent memory loss? Are there any drugs that might help? Please answer in the newspaper so my wife won’t know I am worried.
A. There are a surprising number of medications that appear to cause confusion and forgetfulness and may even increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs That May Contribute to Confusion
Sleeping pills and benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs are worrisome in this regard. Anticholinergic medications such as those prescribed for overactive bladder or used over the counter to treat allergy symptoms or insomnia can affect cognitive function (JAMA Internal Medicine, March, 2015).
Anyone who is interested in learning more about this problem may want to read our Guide to Drugs and Older People, which has a list of medicines that can cause trouble.
A Promising Development
Exciting new research suggests that an epilepsy drug, levetiracetam, may offer hope for people with the first signs of memory loss (NeuroImage: Clinical, online, Feb. 21, 2015). We will be watching for further research on this medication to see if the early promise holds up.