Harvard Health Letter

Side effects: Minor can add up to major

Many medications have relatively minor anticholinergic effects that may add up, causing mental decline and other impairments.

No one has found the pill that will turn back the clock and make us younger, but there are medications whose side effects seem to do just the opposite.

Drugs with anticholinergic effects can scramble thinking, dim memory, and eventually erode our ability to do the basic things needed to take care of ourselves — bathe, dress, prepare meals, walk, and so on. People get more sensitive to anticholinergic effects with age, so it's a common mistake to blame old age, or incipient Alzheimer's disease, for someone's decline when it might actually be the anticholinergic consequence of the drugs he or she is taking.

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