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Is There A Connection Between Alcohol and Dementia?

by Amy, April 12, 2018


As a Bay Area home caregiving agency, we know that seniors who consume higher than normal amounts of alcohol has become a growing problem in recent years. What about dementia and alcohol use - is there a connection? According to some, the answer is yes.

Most people associate Alzheimer's with dementia, however there is a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which is brain damage that results from drinking and is sometimes referred to as alcoholic dementia.

What is so concerning about this is that alcoholic dementia isn't caused when a person gets older and drinks, but earlier in life. For instance, if someone drinks alcohol on a regular basis (3 or 4 beers a day, an entire bottle of wine in one evening on frequent occasions) during their 30's and 40's, it increases their risk of developing alcoholic dementia threefold. While age results in a decline in brain cells, alcohol speeds this process.

Some of the symptoms you may notice if an aging loved one has dementia caused by consuming too much alcohol throughout his or her lifetime include:

  • Some memory loss
  • A reduction in organizing or reasoning skills
  • Behavior that seems inappropriate
  • Problems making decisions
  • Short attention span
  • Seeming insensitive to other people's feelings

In addition to the above symptoms those with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may have issues when it comes to learning something new, increased confusion an/or memory loss, trouble communicating and even hallucinations in some cases.

If you suspect alcoholic dementia it's important to see your doctor and stop drinking if you still do. Additionally there are certain vitamins that can help replace those that lack in the body due to consuming alcohol, and thiamine (pills or injections) may improve symptoms.

At Care Indeed we provide a wide array of home care services for those in Walnut Creek, San Jose, Lamorinda and other cities in the Bay Area. Whether for dementia care, daily help with tasks, overnight care or respite care, contact us today.