International Psychogeriatrics

Research Article

Psychotropic medication use and cognition in institutionalized older adults with mild to moderate dementia

Laura H. P. Eggermonta1 c1, Kerst de Vriesa2 and Erik J. A. Scherdera1a3

a1 Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a2 Nursing Home St. Jacob, Osiragroep, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a3 Institute of Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands


Background: Most studies examining psychotropic medication use on cognition in older persons with dementia include measures of global cognitive function. The present study examined the relationship between different types of psychotropic medication and specific cognitive functions in older people with dementia.

Methods: Two hundred and six institutionalized older adults with dementia (180 women, mean age 85 years) were administered neuropsychological tests. Psychotropic medication use was extracted from their medical status and categorized as: sedatives, antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Results: Analysis of covariance revealed that psychotropic consumers, and particularly those who used antipsychotics, performed worse on neuropsychological tests of executive/attentional functioning than non-consumers. There were no differences between consumers of other classes of psychotropic drugs and non-consumers. The number of psychotropic drugs used was inversely related to executive/attentional functioning.

Conclusions: These findings show that in institutionalized older adults with dementia, specific impairment of cognitive function, i.e. executive/attentional impairments, are associated with antipsychotic medication use. Future longitudinal studies are recommended.

(Received October 27 2008)

(Revised December 03 2008)

(Revised December 09 2008)

(Accepted December 15 2008)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Laura H. P. Eggermont, VU University, Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Phone: +31-20-598-8878, Fax: +31-20-598-8761. Email: