Certain medications are associated with functional decline in the elderly

Research Activities, August 2012, No. 384

Functional status is the hallmark by which geriatric care is measured. Having a good functional status means an elderly individual can still take part in activities of daily living, be mobile, and engage in various activities including cooking, cleaning, shopping, and managing finances. Medication use is a known risk factor for functional status decline, but a recent review of studies on the topic revealed that some drug classes are associated with greater functional decline than others. The literature review included 19 studies that looked at the relationship between medication use and type and functional decline among older adults. In general, as the number of prescriptions increased, so did functional decline.

Specifically, three of four studies found a negative association between functional decline and the use of benzodiazepines. There was also a relationship found between worse functional status and increasing exposure to anticholinergic medications. Other studies produced mixed results for other drug classes, such as antidepressants and antihypertensives. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17695, HS18721, HS19461).

See "Medication use and functional status decline in older adults: A narrative review," by Emily P. Perone, Pharm.D., Shelly L. Gray, Pharm.D., M.S., and Joseph T. Hanlon, Pharm.D., M.S., in the December 2011 The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy 9(6), pp. 378-391.


Current as of August 2012
Internet Citation: Certain medications are associated with functional decline in the elderly: Research Activities, August 2012, No. 384. August 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/aug12/0812RA24.html