AARP has issued a warning to think twice before taking certain over-the-counter medications, which are now linked to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study of 3,500 seniors showed that taking these medications regularly for a period of three years increases the risk, and that the danger increases even further when taken for longer periods of time and in higher doses.

Medications to be cautious in taking long-term and in high doses include:

-Antihistamines found in Benadryl
-Sleep aids found in Tylenol PM
-Certain antidepressants
-Treatments for bladder control

“We know that these medications may have an effect on memory, and we always assumed that these effects were reversible. We didn’t think these medications were changing the brain permanently. Our study does suggest a link between the highest use and increased dementia risk,” noted Shelly Gray, professor of pharmacy at the University of Washington and the study’s author.

Since insomnia is so common in seniors, it’s recommended that non-drug therapies be investigated over OTC sleeping medications. There are also alternative antihistamines, such as Claritin, and antidepressants, such as Prozac and Celexa. It’s stressed, however, that a physician be consulted before making any changes to medications or treatment plans.

Read more about the study’s findings between over-the-counter medications and dementia.