Alternatives to these drugs really depend on what they are being prescribed for.
Often non-drug alternatives are available, but they may not be offered unless you ask.
And don’t give anyone a pass when they say “Oh, I’ve always taken this drug.” Younger and healthier brains experience less dysfunction from these drugs.
That’s because a younger brain has more processing power and is more resilient.
For example, an oral medication for itching can be replaced by a topical cream.
Or the right kind of stretching can help with tight muscles.
Notably, there has been a lot of concern in the media about statins, but a meta-analysis published in 2015 could not confirm an association between statin use and increased cognitive impairment.
Focus your energies on spotting the ones that have “high” anticholinergic activity.
And I can’t tell you how often I find that seniors are taking over-the-counter or prescription medications that dampen their brain function. What especially troubles me is that most of these older adults — and their families — have no idea that many have been linked to developing dementia, or to worsening of dementia symptoms.
So it’s worth spotting them whether you are concerned about mild cognitive impairment or caring for someone with full-blown Alzheimers.
Recently, while I was at a family celebration, several people mentioned memory concerns to me.
Some were older adults concerned about the memory of their spouses.
Below, I share the most commonly used drugs that you should look out for if you are worried about memory problems. They do work well for this purpose, but they are habit-forming and have been associated with developing dementia. These have been shown in clinical studies to impair thinking — and balance! This means they have the opposite effect of an Alzheimer’s drug like donepezil (brand name Aricept), which is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.