The Older Brain on Drugs: Substances That May Cause Cognitive Impairment

Jenny Rogers, MD; Bonnie S. Wiese, MD; Kiran Rabheru, MD, CCFP, FRCP


Geriatrics and Aging. 2008;11(5):284-289. 

In This Article


Benzodiazepines are commonly used as anxyolitics and for insomnia (clonazepam [Klonopin®], lorazepam [Ativan®], triazolam [Halcion®]). Benzodiazepine use is associated with a host of cognitive and psychomotor side effects including episodic memory problems, poor concentration, disinhibition, drowsiness, dysarthria, motor incoordination, and falls.[31,32,33,34] Benzodiazepines slow reaction time, lead to visuospatial deficits, impair driving skills, and increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes, especially among older adults.[35,36] Memory impairment may be reversed when benzodiazepines are stopped.[37] Despite benzodiazepines being on the list of Beers criteria of inappropriate medications for older adults[1] and a trend towards decreased prescribing,[38] tranquilizers as a class comprised 5.3% of all prescriptions given to Canadian women over 60 in 2006.[39]


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.