Living with a chronic illness can present its own set of challenges.
But when conditions like diabetes are linked to dementia, the importance of finding the connection between the two becomes even greater.
For every American aged 65 and older, regardless of whether they receive in-home care services, there are almost eight people who have Alzheimer’s disease.
That number increases after age 85 to one in two people.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, more than 29 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes, while 86 million adults were identified as pre-diabetic.
In a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers indicated that people with mild cognitive impairment are more likely to develop dementia if they already suffer from diabetes.
Mild cognitive impairment is considered the stage between normal, age-related thinking decline and the full-onset of dementia. It’s a condition that makes it difficult to remember important dates or information.
Mild cognitive impairment could also affect visual perception, the capacity to make sound decisions, and the ability to complete tasks in an orderly manner.
In some diabetes mellitus patients, hypoglycemia occurs, adversely affecting cognitive function.
Recent studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco say that “cognitive impairment in turn can compromise DM management and lead to hypoglycemia.”
Low glucose levels impair cognitive function because the brain uses glucose for energy. At its worst, hypoglycemia can cause neuronal damage, which in turn, can lead to Alzheimer’s or dementia. If someone with diabetes required hospitalization due to hypoglycemia, it could double their risk of dementia over the next 12 years, according to researchers.
Cognitive impairment brought on by hypoglycemia could lead to more hypoglycemic events and further cognitive decline.
Studies also suggest that in a patient with mild cognitive impairment, diabetes seems to make it more likely that dementia will occur.
With more and more research pointing to the relationship between the two conditions, if you’re loved one is not receiving personalized elder care, it’s important to make sure they’re monitoring their blood and glucose levels closely with diabetes.
While there is no way to prevent dementia, there are a few things you can do – like watching meal portions and sugar intake, maintaining a healthy body weight, eating whole grains, getting plenty of rest and regular exercise – that could actually help decrease the chances of developing diabetes.