J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2020 Oct;24(2):51-59. 10.47825/jkgp.2020.24.2.51.

The Use of Anticholinergic Drugs in the Elderly

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, 1 Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu,
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, 2 Kyungpook National University Chilgok Hospital, Daegu,
  • 3Department of Psychiatry 3 , School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea


Anticholinergic drugs are commonly prescribed for treatment in specific clinical conditions in the elderly. Despite these thera-peutic benefits, the use of anticholinergic drugs is limited due to central or peripheral anticholinergic side effects. Especially in the elderly, since long-term use of anticholinergic drugs is related to mild cognitive impairment and dementia, it is necessary to pre-scribe anticholinergic drugs appropriately. In this review, we try to cover pathophysiology, prevalence of anticholinergic drugs, measuring tools of anticholinergic activity. Also, the negative effects on cognitive function, psychiatric symptoms, delirium, hospi-talization, functionality and mortality, and the benefits and limitations of discontinuing anticholinergic drugs are discussed. Finally, we suggest appropriate prescriptions of anticholinergic drugs for the elderly in various clinical conditions.


Anticholinergic; Aged; Cognitive dysfunction; Dementia
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