A recent study suggests that individuals over the age of 65 who have taken certain sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs may face a higher risk of developing dementia within 15 years than those who have never taken the pills.
According to a 2010 study in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal, it is estimated that between 22 per cent and 27 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 use the drugs called Benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety and insomnia) regularly, a rate that rises to more than 30 per cent among those over age 85.
All of the drugs within the Benzodiazepines category are only meant to be taken for up to six weeks to treat insomnia and for no more than two months to treat anxiety, according to Health Canada.
The startling chronic use is what is raising public health concern. Many patients are using these drugs well beyond the suggested timeframe for use. Researchers from the University of Bordeaux have stated that the data they’ve accumulated suggests that the use of benzodiazepines is associated with increased risk of dementia. Given this, the chronic overuse and consumption of these drugs is a cause for public concern. Further research needs to be done in this area to discourage the prolonged use of these drugs.
These drugs do remain effective in treating anxiety and insomnia, but also alternatives should be looked at where the risks of dementia may become an event greater concern.