Common Connections Between Diabetes & Dementia

By , 9:00 am on

According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death among Americans. When coupled with other age-related health changes, diabetes can be particularly devastating for adults over the age of 65 and puts them at greater risk for stroke and cardiovascular diseases. According to two recent studies published in Diabetes Care and the Journal of the American Medical Association, diabetes can also be linked to a higher risk of dementia. 

How the Brain Uses Glucose

The brain needs glucose for energy. When a person’s blood sugar drops too low, a condition known as hypoglycemia, he or she may experience confusion, headaches, dizziness, and other neurological symptoms. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco who conducted the studies believe that repeated severe episodes of hypoglycemia can cause neuronal damage that leads to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Hypoglycemia can adversely affect your elderly loved one’s health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. West Hartford, Connecticut, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

How Hypoglycemia Affects Cognition

Individuals with diabetes have difficulty producing and regulating their insulin levels. Without proper management, diabetics may experience erratic fluctuations in their blood sugar, including episodes of severe hypoglycemia. Researchers found that seniors who experienced hypoglycemic episodes requiring hospitalization were twice as likely to show signs of dementia over the next 12 years. The studies also found that hypoglycemia and dementia essentially worked together in a vicious cycle. The hypoglycemic episodes caused cognitive impairment, which made it more difficult for the individual to manage diabetes properly. Over time, the hypoglycemic episodes contributed to cognitive decline in the form of dementia, which increased the likelihood of poor blood sugar control and further episodes of low blood sugar. 

If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated home care agency. West Hartford Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

What Caregivers Can Do

Make sure your loved one stays on top of his or her diabetes treatment regimen. This may involve overseeing your loved one’s medications and testing his or her blood sugar levels as prescribed by the physician. Your loved one should have his or her hemoglobin A1C checked so the doctor can determine if the treatment regimen is working appropriately. 

Since diabetes puts your loved one at greater risk for cognitive decline, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the early warning signs of dementia, including:

  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Difficulty finding the right words when speaking or writing
  • Disorientation as to time and place
  • Poor judgment and difficulty with abstract thinking
  • Changes in mood and uncharacteristic behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • Short-term memory loss

If your loved one displays any of these symptoms, it is important to consult the doctor to determine if they are the result of dementia or normal aging. While there is no cure for dementia, medications and other therapies are available to slow the progression of the disease and enhance cognitive performance.

Seniors can reduce their likelihood of developing diabetes and dementia with the help of a professional in-home caregiver. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, West Hartford Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at (860) 372.4500 today.