Utilization of Medications with Cognitive Impairment Side Effects and the Implications for Older Adults’ Cognitive Function

Duy Do , University of Pennsylvania
Jason Schnittker, University of Pennsylvania

Many medications have adverse cognitive side effects, but little is known about trends in the prevalence of these medications or their implications for population-level cognitive impairment. We used the 1999-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to describe trends in the use of medications with cognitive side effects among adults aged 60+ and their implications for cognitive functioning. Between 1999-2000 and 2015-2016, the prevalence of older adults taking one, two, and at least three medications with cognitive side effects increased by 10.2%, 57.3%, and 298.7%, respectively. Compared to non-users, respondents who simultaneously used three or more medications with cognitive side effects performed worse on cognitive assessments. These findings have implications for disparities in cognitive impairment: the more frequent use of medications with adverse cognitive side effects among some subgroups may explain for their higher prevalence of cognitive impairment. They also highlight an important implication of the recent rise in polypharmacy.

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 Presented in Session 91. Influences on Cognitive Function in Later Life