Journal of Gerontological Nursing

CE Article 

Anticholinergic Medications: Use Among Older Adults with Memory Problems

Rachel F. Kemper, MSN, RN; Victoria Steiner, PhD; Barbara Hicks, MSN, RN; Linda Pierce, PhD, RN; Cletus Iwuagwu, MD

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency with which over-the-counter and prescription medications with potential anticholinergic side effects were used by a sample of 193 older adults with memory problems. Medications with anticholinergic side effects are contraindicated in this population because they can worsen memory impairment and increase confusion. A retrospective chart review of clients seen between October 1999 and April 2004 was completed, with a secondary analysis of the medications older adults (older than 50 years) were taking at their initial clinic visit. Findings revealed that 10.3% of these older adults were consuming one or more medications with anticholinergic side effects. These findings demonstrate an ongoing opportunity for nurses to educate health care providers, as well as consumers, regarding the dangers of these medications.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency with which over-the-counter and prescription medications with potential anticholinergic side effects were used by a sample of 193 older adults with memory problems. Medications with anticholinergic side effects are contraindicated in this population because they can worsen memory impairment and increase confusion. A retrospective chart review of clients seen between October 1999 and April 2004 was completed, with a secondary analysis of the medications older adults (older than 50 years) were taking at their initial clinic visit. Findings revealed that 10.3% of these older adults were consuming one or more medications with anticholinergic side effects. These findings demonstrate an ongoing opportunity for nurses to educate health care providers, as well as consumers, regarding the dangers of these medications.

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency with which over-the-counter and prescription medications with potential anticholinergic side effects were used by a sample of 193 older adults with memory problems. Medications with anticholinergic side effects are contraindicated in this population because they can worsen memory impairment and increase confusion. A retrospective chart review of clients seen between October 1999 and April 2004 was completed, with a secondary analysis of the medications older adults (older than 50 years) were taking at their initial clinic visit. Findings revealed that 10.3% of these older adults were consuming one or more medications with anticholinergic side effects. These findings demonstrate an ongoing opportunity for nurses to educate health care providers, as well as consumers, regarding the dangers of these medications.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ms. Kemper is a Rehabilitation Nurse, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Steiner is Assistant Professor, Ms. Hicks is Associate Professor Emerita, Dr. Pierce is Professor, and Dr. Iwuagwu is Assistant Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio.

The authors disclose that they have no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support.

Address correspondence to Rachel F. Kemper, MSN, RN, 4475 Tuttle’s Brooke Drive, Dublin, OH 43016; e-mail: Rachel.Kemper@osumc.edu.

Authors

Ms. Kemper is a Rehabilitation Nurse, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Steiner is Assistant Professor, Ms. Hicks is Associate Professor Emerita, Dr. Pierce is Professor, and Dr. Iwuagwu is Assistant Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio.

The authors disclose that they have no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support.

Address correspondence to Rachel F. Kemper, MSN, RN, 4475 Tuttle’s Brooke Drive, Dublin, OH 43016; e-mail: Rachel.Kemper@osumc.edu.

10.3928/00989134-20070101-06

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