Alcohol can have toxic effects throughout the body. Most people are aware that alcohol can damage the liver, but many are surprised to realize it can also harm the brain. Years of drinking alcohol can cause a type of memory loss called alcohol-induced dementia. Here’s what you need to know about this condition.
Often Linked to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a condition caused by chronic and excessive vitamin B1 deficiency. When a person is an alcoholic, the body cannot absorb nutrients correctly, which causes brain lesions. Over time, seniors with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may begin to experience dementia and other symptoms. This type of dementia affects both short-term and long-term memories. Though Wernicke-Korsakoff is the most common cause of alcohol-induced dementia, sometimes this type of dementia is caused by overall excessive drinking. Long-term drinking can damage the brain and raise blood pressure high enough to increase dementia risks.
Seniors with dementia may need assistance making healthier lifestyle choices, and they can benefit from professional in-home care. A Sacramento caregiver can help your elderly loved one manage his or her health in a variety of ways. If your loved one needs encouragement to exercise more often, eat healthier foods, or socialize on a regular basis, an in-home caregiver can address these and many other health-related concerns.
Symptoms Differ from Traditional Dementia
Just like traditional dementia, alcohol-related dementia causes difficulty with both memory and cognitive function. However, it tends to progress a little differently. Instead of gradual loss of overall function, seniors begin to have difficulty with both long and short-term memory. They are also more likely to have confabulation, which is a symptom where seniors make up an answer if they do not know the proper response, leading to bizarre statements and obvious falsehoods. Personality changes, hallucinations, and extreme confusion are also more likely.
It May Be Reversible
As long as seniors stop drinking alcohol and make sure they are getting enough B vitamins, alcohol-induced dementia is typically treatable. Though only 20 percent of Wernicke-Korsakoff cases make a full recovery, most seniors at least make a partial recovery and regain lost brain functioning. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, alcohol-induced dementia does not typically get worse over time once a senior undergoes treatment. However, the condition can progress further if a person continues to drink, even on a much lower level.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Sacramento seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
You May Have Difficulty Finding Care
Most seniors with alcohol-induced dementia require more care than the average senior with dementia because they are also facing addiction. For many long-term alcoholics, getting sober requires extensive therapy, counseling, and other forms of healthcare. Families of seniors with alcohol-induced dementia often discover that getting the appropriate care is quite difficult. You need to find both general mental health services and addiction counseling services.
Seniors can reduce their risk of alcohol-induced dementia by avoiding alcoholic beverages and making healthier lifestyle choices. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Sacramento, California, 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. To learn about our premier senior care plans or to hire a dedicated caregiver for your aging loved one, call us at (916) 706-0169 today.