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Is it Dementia…or something else?

If you were a doctor and an older adult came to your office because they were confused, forgetful, and unable to focus, what would your first step be? It probably wouldn’t be to do a medication review.  

Medicine travels through the bodies of older adults differently that it travels through the bodies of younger adults. Older bodies can process medications less efficiently and take longer to break down medicine, meaning it sits in the stomach for longer periods of time.  These natural differences can result in certain medicines becoming harmful, especially if given in the wrong dosage.  

Older adults are more likely to be taking a variety of pills (both prescription and over the counter). Unfortunately, many of these medications can be anticholinergic, meaning that they decrease the chemical acetylcholine in the brain- which is responsible for memory, attention, and concentration.   

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, it’s estimated that one in four older adults take at least one anticholinergic medication.1These could be anything from sleep aids to decongestants to antipsychotic medication.  

What can you do? 

  • Talk to your doctor about your medication and the risks/benefits of each medication
  • Ask if there are substitutions for anticholinergic medication you might be taking 
  • Make sure you’re talking to your doctor about all the medication you’re taking regularly- including supplements and over the counter medication 
  • NEVER stop taking a medication without supervision from your doctor   

Visit the Ahead of the Curve Resource Directory for information on senior living options for people with Dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a great list of the 10 signs to look out for. The Great Lakes chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is another excellent community resource.  

Check out our online training

Are you Ahead of the Curve? Take our short training any time to learn more about ways to support older adults in your family or community. You’ll learn to identify when someone might need more help and which resources are available for support.

Explore the Washtenaw County Senior Resource Directory

Our easy to use and regularly updated resource directory is a one-stop guide to older adult services in Washtenaw County.