Objectives: To describe anticholinergic use patterns in older adult home health recipients and examine their relationship to evidence of cognitive impairment.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: A home health care agency in Eastern Washington state.
Participants: Potential study subjects were 174 recipients of home health services between March 1, 2006, and October 1, 2006, who were 60 years of age or older and had been screened for cognitive impairment by the Mini-Cog assessment test. A random sample of 65 out of 75 patients who scored in the impaired range on the Mini-Cog and a random sample of 65 out of 99 patients who scored in the unimpaired range were included in the study.
Main outcome measure: prevalence of anticholinergic medication use.
Results: The majority of participants (80.0%) were using a medication with anticholinergic effects; however, more participants were using weak anticholinergics (66.1%) than potent agents (33.8%). After controlling for age, caregiver presence, and marital status, participants who scored as cognitively impaired on the Mini-Cog were less likely to be taking a medication with anticholinergic properties (odds ratio 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.94).
Conclusion: Although anticholinergic use was common in this older adult, home health population, the majority of participants were using medications with weak anticholinergic activity, as opposed to potent ones. Participants with cognitive impairment were less likely to be using any medication with anticholinergic properties.