Exploring my options: When my medicines may be causing side effects

Use this resource to better understand your options including how you feel about the possible benefits and harms of changing or not changing your medicines.


Why am I being offered these options?

You (or someone you care for) are experiencing one or more of the following health problems:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling unsteady
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision, dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Trouble urinating

These problems could be side effects from one or more of your medicines. They are sometimes called anticholinergic (an-tee-koh-li-nur-jik) side effects.

Your doctor thinks a change to a particular medicine may help with these problem(s).

Making changes to the medicines you take is serious and should be a shared decision between you and your doctor. 

Understand the options

Change your medicine

What do I do?

  • With your doctor, decide which medicine to change. The change might be slowly reducing the medicine dose, stopping the medicine completely or switching to a new medicine.
  • Make a plan with your doctor to keep an eye on how you are feeling. 
  • Talk to your doctor about other things you can do to stay well.

Possible benefits

  • You take less of the medicine. You may even be able to stop taking it altogether.
  • You have fewer side effects.

Possible harms

  • The condition being treated by the medicine might
    get worse.
  • You may need to restart the medicine.
  • You may need to see your doctor more regularly while you make changes to your medicine.
    Keep taking your medicine

    What do I do?

    • Keep taking your medicine as prescribed.
    • Make a plan with your doctor to manage the side effects, eg, using mouth wash for a dry mouth.
    • Understand when to see your doctor again because of the side effects you are having, eg, becoming more unsteady.

    Possible benefits

    • Your medicine stays the same.
    • No need for additional follow up appointments with your doctor about your medicine.

    Possible harms

    • You still have side effects.
    • The side effects can lead to more serious problems over time, such as having a fall or needing to go to hospital.

    What’s most important to me?

    When thinking about your health, write down the things that are most important to you, eg, living independently, feeling in control of your health, continuing your favourite hobbies or activities.

    How do you feel about these statements?
    AgreeDisagreeDon't know
    I feel I am taking too many medicines
    I feel I may be taking medicines I no longer need
    I don’t like how I feel when I take my medicines
    I find making changes to my medicines stressful
    I am worried about my health becoming worse if one of my medicines was changed

    What else matters to you?


    Do I have enough information and support to make a shared decision with my doctor?

    Ask yourself:

    • Do I understand the options available to me?
    • Am I clear about which benefits and harms matter most to me?
    YESTalk to your doctor about which option you'd like to try
    NOHere are some questions to ask your doctor:
    • Are all my medicines still useful?
    • What could happen if these side effects get worse?
    • Can I manage my condition without taking medicine?
    • Who else can I talk to for more advice, before I decide?
    Write down any questions or things that are worrying you.

    Download the original pdf of this article