As efforts are made to treat more acute conditions, memory problems, memory loss, confusion, and cognitive decline are often overlooked as a normal part of aging. But experts say that memory loss and cognitive health are not inevitable as we age. Even as the human brain ages, it can grow new brain cells and form new neural connections.

Some things can cause memory and cognitive symptoms, such as alcohol and drug abuse, stroke, head injury, lack of sleep, vitamin B12 deficiency, severe stress, and Alzheimer’s disease. But what most people don’t know is that many common prescription drugs can affect memory. Read on to learn about some medications that can cause memory loss.

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause memory side effects. Certain medications have been linked to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In the following paragraphs, we will explain some of the common prescriptions that can negatively affect memory and lead to memory loss.

Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia, delirium, agitation, and muscle spasms. Examples include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril).

Benzodiazepines slow down the activity of the central nervous system, affecting the parts of the brain involved in the transfer of short-term memories to long-term memories. Benzodiazepines are prescribed with caution in the elderly due to reduced kidney and liver function. Accumulation of benzodiazepines can lead to memory loss, delirium, and other cognitive problems.

Anticholinergic drugs
Anticholinergic drugs are used to treat overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Examples of diuretics include oxybutynin (Ditropan XL, Oxytrol, Gelnique), darifenacin (Enablex), solifenacin (Vesicare), trospium (Sanctura), and tolterodine (Detrol). Oxytrol for women is an anticholinergic skin patch in addition to prescription medications.

Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking the activity of acetylcholine, an important chemical messenger involved in many functions of the human body. Anticholinergic drugs can relieve urinary symptoms by preventing bladder muscle spasms and contractions. However, anticholinergic agents affect the central nervous system, particularly the memory and learning centers of the brain. Long-term use of anticholinergics or concomitant use of other anticholinergics increases the risk of memory loss. Anticholinergic drugs are at risk of adverse effects in the elderly because of reduced kidney and liver function.

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