Your Medicine May Be Fogging Your Memory

If you take a prescription to treat insomnia, anxiety, itching or allergies, it may be blurring your memory or concentration, especially if you’re a senior, according to an international study.

Up to 90 percent of people over the age of 65 take at least one prescription medication. Eighteen percent of people in this age group complain of memory problems and suffer mild cognitive deficits. Research suggests their brain problems are linked to their pharmaceutical use.

When researchers analyzed the effects of benzodiazepines (which are often used to treat anxiety and insomnia) they found that these drugs consistently lead to impairments in memory and concentration, with a clear dose-response relationship. At the same time, tests on antihistamines and tests on tricyclic antidepressants showed deficits in attention and information processing.

According to researcher Cara Tannenbaum, research chair at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, the current findings support recommendation issued in the Revised Beers Criteria published last spring 2012 by the American Geriatrics Society: Seniors should not take sleeping pills, first generation antihistamines or tricyclic antidepressants. Not if they want their brains to keep working.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.