The Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Diabetes Connection

by Mary Joye, LMHC
Forgetfulness happens to all of us at some time in our lives. We all have trouble finding our keys and glasses. Many of us walk into a room and ask ourselves, “Why did I come in here?”
Forgetting is natural, particularly under stress. Your brain’s executive functioning is decreased when stress is increased.
The most evolved part of the brain is behind the forehead and is called the prefrontal cortex. It keeps us alert and engaged in many facets of day-to-day life, emotions, and social connecting. The hippocampus is the memory bank and is in the middle section of the brain working on turning short term memory into long term.
Many stressors and other factors can lead to anyone’s brains diverting its attention to from memory to keeping vital organs working. This diversion can be exacerbated by diabetes of all types.
One of my friends, recently diagnosed with diabetes shares, “If a person crashes with low blood sugar, they have an increased chance of developing dementia because the brain sacrifices memory to keep other areas functioning with limited glucose. I’m working on that now and being less stressed will help.”
Diabetes and memory issues is a distressing fact. However, de-stressing and gaining insight with coping skills, helps the brain stay sharper and aids the recovery of memory. If you have diabetes, there is research being done to help you and anyone who suffers from blood sugar related memory issues.
In 2012, Dr. Ravona-Springer and Dr. Schnaider-Beeri in their study titled, “The association of diabetes and dementia and possible implications for nondiabetic populations” reported two top “key issues.”
Diabetes has consistently been shown to increase risk for cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
The importance of the association between diabetes and dementia is that diabetes is modifiable, thus disentangling the mechanisms involved may offer prevention strategies for dementia.
It is a bad news/good news medical report that offers hope for those suffering with dementia symptoms in tandem with diabetes. There is hope for diabetic related dementia symptoms because of the association being “modifiable.”
In mental health terms, this study is important to the concept of neuroplasticity, which means you can change the way your brain functions and new neural pathways can be formed. We can all let go of the notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
For more information, can help you find resources and group support in your area. You simply have to type in your zip code and local support is easy to find.

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