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Can Diabetes Cause Memory Loss?

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A senior woman smiling and checking her blood sugar level using a glucometer and test strip at home

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While the link between diabetes and physical health issues like heart disease, kidney problems, and vision impairment is well-established, there is growing concern about the potential impact of diabetes on cognitive function, including memory loss. 

Although diabetes is well known to impact the body’s ability to regulate sugar levels, it is also linked to cognitive decline, including memory loss. 

Over time, high blood sugar destroys the arteries in the brain that deliver oxygen-rich blood. Brain cells may cease functioning if your brain receives insufficient blood. This is known as brain atrophy, and it can lead to memory and thinking issues, as well as vascular dementia.

Residents of The Legacy at Cimarron with diabetes may have individualized care plans that outline their specific needs and preferences regarding diabetes management, including details on meal plans, medication schedules, and activity levels. The Legacy also provides memory care for those experiencing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The following blog post will discuss the relationship between diabetes and memory loss, including the potential risk factors and preventative measures.

Understanding Diabetes

Before looking into the relationship between diabetes and memory loss, let’s briefly understand the two primary types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes typically develops in childhood or adolescence when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes require lifelong insulin therapy.

Type 2 Diabetes

This form of diabetes is more common and usually develops in adulthood. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough of it. Lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity often play a significant role in type 2 diabetes.

The Diabetes-Memory Loss Connection

The primary risk factor for memory loss with diabetes is high blood sugar. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause a wide range of health issues, including lower brain function. High blood sugar affects the brain’s ability to function normally, and it either impairs or restricts cognitive function. 

Additionally, diabetes could lead to the clogging of blood vessels and cause inflammation. This condition can cause memory problems, especially in the short term, as well as further complications to the brain and cognitive function.

Moreover, diabetes can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among individuals. This association is because the cells of the brain that manage insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, may be damaged. 

The brain needs insulin in the same way as your body does. Without the right amount of insulin, brain cells may not get sufficient energy to perform their primary roles, leading to cell damage and death—the same mechanisms that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes & Depression 

Another leading cause of memory loss with diabetes is depression. People with diabetes are more susceptible to depression and anxiety, which could negatively impact memory. Both depression and anxiety can affect a person’s ability to think and remember, and these symptoms may worsen over time. 

The best approach to address this issue is professional management of both diabetes and depression symptoms.

Help Reduce the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Despite the negative impacts of diabetes on memory, there are several steps individuals with diabetes can take to help reduce their risk of cognitive decline:

  • Blood Sugar Control: The cornerstone of diabetes management is maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Regular monitoring, medication adherence, and a balanced diet can help achieve this.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoiding excessive consumption of sugary and processed foods can help manage diabetes and support brain health.
  • Medication Adherence: If prescribed medication for diabetes, it’s essential to take it as directed by a healthcare professional.
  • Regular Checkups: Frequent checkups with a healthcare provider can help monitor diabetes-related complications and address them promptly.
  • Cognitive Training: Engaging in mental exercises, such as puzzles, reading, and memory games, can help maintain cognitive function.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can exacerbate diabetes and affect memory. Techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help manage stress levels.
  • Don’t smoke, and if you do smoke, quit.
A senior man sits at a table, holding cards next to a cup of tea and smiling. In the background, fellow seniors engage in conversation while a nurse helps out.

Navigating the Impact of Diabetes on Memory Loss

Individuals with diabetes should work closely with healthcare professionals to achieve stable blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of memory-related issues. By taking proactive steps to manage their condition, individuals with diabetes can lead fulfilling lives while safeguarding their cognitive health. Get in touch today to learn more about how The Legacy at Cimarron can help you or your loved one.

Written by LifeWell

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