The Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

April 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

It can be difficult for home-bound seniors to eat healthy. They’re alone for a big part of the day, they can’t readily go out to buy ingredients, and it’s much easier for them to resort to pre-packaged food than cook a large meal. It’s also easy for them to snack throughout the day, making poor nutritional choices that can put them at a higher risk for diabetes. These risks are compounded if they suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, as they may forget meals and instead snack on junk food when they get hungry.

Alzheimer’s in home care can be a lifesaver for those seniors who need extra assistance.

The Diabetes/Alzheimer’s Connection

About 21 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a disease that makes it difficult for the body to convert sugar to energy. Six million of those don’t even know they have the condition. Scientists have detected a link between Type 2 diabetes (the most common, linked to being overweight and a lack of exercise) and Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia and leading cause of death in the USA), according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Diabetes may spur a variety of complications, one of which is damage to the blood vessels. Diabetes is also a risk factor for vascular dementia, a form of brain damage caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies reveal that many seniors with diabetes show changes in their brains that place them at risk for developing both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Each condition feeds off the damage brought on by the other.

The link between the two originates in the complicated ways in which type 2 diabetes impacts the ability of the brain to use sugar and respond to insulin. On top of that, diabetes boosts the risk of mild cognitive impairment, where seniors experience more memory and cognitive issues than are usually present during the normal aging process. Mild cognitive impairment is thought to accompany or even precede Alzheimer’s disease.

Reducing the Risk

There are things you can do to help yourself or a senior loved one cut the risk of the Alzheimer’s/diabetes connection, and avoid or reduce complications, such as:

  • Eye damage
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Digestive problems (gastroparesis)

Check out these tips for preventing or managing diabetes:

  • Follow recommendations outlined by the Alzheimer’s home care team regarding monitoring of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Eat healthy foods, including lean meats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat milk and cheese.
  • If overweight, consume a healthy diet and exercise to slim down, as obesity can spur diabetes and a wide variety of other health problems.
  • Exercise for at least a half hour three times a week.
  • Examine your feet for sores on a daily basis.
  • Take prescribed medications on a schedule; do not miss a dose.

To ensure your senior is consuming a healthy diet every day, take advantage of our home care services that include meal prep, grocery shopping and nutrition.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

To learn more about how we promote healthy and nutritious meals for your senior loved one, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500. We would also be happy to talk about our Alzheimer’s care services.