Summary: commonly-used prescription and over-the-counter drugs may contribute to memory loss in older people, particularly if taken for long periods of time.
Results of a recent study by scientists at Yale University suggest that long term use of some prescription and over-the-counter medicines contributes to memory loss in older people. Previous studies, including one by French researchers, had also shown a connection between these medicines and memory loss. The Yale study, which quantified the effects of using multiple anticholinergic medicines over time, confirmed this connection. For study participants (544 men 65 and older), cumulative exposure to these medicines over a year’s time was associated with lower scores on tests of short term memory and executive function. The study authors believe that the medicines have a similar effect on women.