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Common Connections Between Diabetes & Dementia

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Studies performed by various research groups revealed a link between diabetes and dementia. Hypoglycemia and vascular damage are two of the reasons cognitive impairment develops. Careful monitoring of blood sugar levels by diabetic seniors or a caregiver is necessary to reduce the risk of dementia. 

Having excessive blood sugar levels 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. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 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.

Take a look at how diabetes and dementia are two correlated diseases.

Study on Hypoglycemia & Dementia Risk

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco submitted an article to JAMA Internal Medicine explaining how low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) increases the risk of dementia development. The group evaluated the data from 783 diabetic people. The seniors requiring hospitalization for severe hypoglycemic episodes were at twice the risk of developing dementia in the following years. The study also revealed that seniors with dementia had double the risk of developing further severe hypoglycemic events related to confusion and memory loss. 

Diabetics experienced hypoglycemic episodes when they took oral diabetes medications or insulin and had not eaten enough to elevate their blood sugar. As the brain requires glucose to function properly, abnormally low levels cause cognitive impairment. Over time, the cells chronically starved of glucose undergo damage, which leads to dementia. 

Once dementia develops, seniors may not remember to eat or take their medication, which leads to further hypoglycemic events. When dementia is present, older adults should be monitored by their loved ones or professional caregivers to ensure they are getting sufficient dietary intake and are taking their medications properly. 

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. Milwaukee 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.

Vascular Dementia 

Vascular dementia is the term that describes mini-strokes that occur in the deep recesses of the brain, which destroy the area’s ability to function normally and produce dementia symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood sugar carries many risks, including damage to organs and blood vessels. Vascular damage interferes with blood flow to various regions of the brain. If a blockage occurs, increased pressure in the vessel may cause a small rupture and blood leakage. When the brain cells in the blocked area are deprived of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, they die, which leads to dementia. 

A study performed by Swedish scientists evaluated 125 autopsies of seniors who were diagnosed as having diabetes. Along with autopsy findings, the group had access to A1C tests and fasting blood sugar assessments for each person. They found that diabetics with lower A1C results did not develop dementia. 

Many physicians consider an A1C of 7 percent or less for diabetic seniors acceptable. By studying the brains of people formerly treated for diabetes but having A1C levels of 7 percent or higher, they found higher levels of amyloid protein plaque formations and tangles in the brain. These formations clump together and interfere with neuron alignment and blood flow. As a result, messages are not properly sent or received in the affected areas, and cells die from starvation. Dementia then occurs. From the findings, the researchers recommend that diabetics strive to keep their A1C levels as close to 5.7 percent as possible.

Diabetes is one of the many serious health issues that can negatively impact your loved one’s overall quality of life. Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Milwaukee live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place. To learn about our revolutionary in-home care plans, give us a call at (414) 964-8000 today.