Although previous research has linked polypharmacy to lower cognitive function in the general population, we know little about this association among economically challenged African American (AA) older adults. This study explored the link between polypharmacy and memory function among AA older adults. This community-based study recruited 399 AA older adults who were 65+ years old and living in economically disadvantaged areas of South Los Angeles. Polypharmacy (taking 5+ medications) was the independent variable, memory function was the outcome variable (continuous variable), and gender, age, living arrangement, socioeconomic status (educational attainment and financial strain), health behaviors (current smoking and any binge drinking), and multimorbidity (number of chronic diseases) were the covariates. Linear regression was used for data analyses. Polypharmacy was associated with lower scores on memory function, above and beyond covariates. Among AA older adults, polypharmacy may be linked to worse cognitive function. Future research should test the mechanisms by which polypharmacy is associated with lower levels of cognitive decline. There is a need for screening for memory problems in AA older adults who are exposed to polypharmacy.
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