Like Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), those with many other types of dementia have an imbalance of acetylcholine in the brain. Anticholinergic drugs can be problematic for those with AD and non-AD dementias.
I saw this Q&A recently in my Dad’s AARP Health Care Options newsletter called fyi.
Ask Dr. Reed ([email protected])
AARP Health Care Options fyi (newsletter)
Question: My husband has Alzheimer’s disease. His pharmacist told me that certain medicines could further worsen his memory problems. Any advice?
Answer: …You are wise to take steps to ensure that your husband’s mental status is not worsened by the effects of his medicines. As we have mentioned in previous columns, many of us become more sensitive to medicines as we age. As a result, a variety of medicines could produce unanticipated effects that could worsen mental status and overall function.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by low levels of a chemical that transmits signals between nerves called “acetylcholine.” As a result, medicines called “anticholinergic” drugs that block the effects of this nerve chemical can be especially problematic for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, these drugs are very common. They include:
* Certain antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
* Certain antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and doxepin (Sinequan)
* Medicines for bladder problems such as oxybutynin (Ditropan)
* Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol (Soma), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), and methocarbamol (Robaxin)
I always say to write down the name of every medicine that you or your loved one is taking, and review this list regularly with your doctor and your pharmacist.