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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.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are often the first things we think about if a loved one begins experiencing memory loss. But these aren’t the only things that can lead to memory loss. Things like stress and anxiety can affect memory at any age. Another thing that you may not connect to memory loss is diabetes.

While diabetes doesn’t directly cause memory loss, the effect it can have on blood sugar levels and the damage it can do to the blood vessels in the brain are what may lead to memory loss or cognitive decline.

Being proactive with managing diabetes is important, and adding exercises and activities to improve memory can also be beneficial.

What Is Diabetes?

We should review what diabetes is and how it affects the body to fully understand how it can affect memory. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body can manage blood sugar levels. Either your body is unable to produce insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling sugar levels, or it can’t use it properly.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the least common, affecting only around 5% to 10% of people with diabetes. Your body stops making insulin with this type of diabetes. And people who develop it must take insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Another important note about type 1 diabetes is that there isn’t a known cure or prevention. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but usually appears before age 40, and most often in childhood.

Type 2 Diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body still produces insulin, but your body doesn’t use it properly. Most people with diabetes have type 2. A significant difference from type 1 diabetes is that type 2 typically develops over many years. Maintaining a healthy weight, living an active lifestyle, and eating a balanced diet are all ways that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but recently there has been a rise in children, teens, and young adults developing type 2 diabetes as well.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Body?

Diabetes can affect the body in many different ways, which is a significant reason that one must follow their doctor’s recommendation for controlling the disease if they develop it. The major root of problems is high blood sugar levels, which can damage different parts of the body or its functions. But if the insulin isn’t breaking down food into usable energy and pulling it into the cells, they’re deprived of the energy they need to function, which can also cause complications.

How Are the Brain & Diabetes Connected?

The brain is an incredibly demanding organ because of the sheer number of functions and processes it controls. Half of all the sugar energy the body has typically goes to the brain. If diabetes is uncontrolled, insulin won’t be doing its job and providing the brain with its much-needed energy.

Another complication of diabetes is unregulated blood sugar levels. And even though the brain demands a lot of sugar, there still must be a balance. Too much or too little sugar can be damaging to its cells.

Can Diabetes Cause Memory Loss?

When sugar levels are consistently too high in the brain, it can cause severe damage to cells and neurons over time. This can lead to brain atrophy, which is directly connected to dementia and all its symptoms, like memory loss and reasoning skills.

A senior man with a cane smiles and laughs while sitting outside with a nurse and other seniors.

Controlling Diabetes & Preventing Memory Loss

Type 1 diabetes is typically controlled primarily by taking insulin when the body needs it. But type 2 is controlled by making lifestyle changes. Someone with type 2 diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels to ensure they stay in a healthy range. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, living an active lifestyle, and maintaining a healthy weight are all important when living with diabetes.

Memory loss related to diabetes is best prevented or minimized by controlling the disease. In turn, this can also help prevent other potentially life-threatening complications from diabetes.

A person can develop type 2 diabetes at any point in their lives. But they should take extra care in planning their retirement if they have increased risk factors of developing it. This might include finding a community with access to excellent medical care or specially trained staff.

Find Compassionate Support for Retirement

A diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t have to put a damper on a senior’s retirement. It’s possible to live a happy, healthy lifestyle with the right care. And a community that offers varying levels of care may be a great option for easy transitions and more lifestyle options.

Give us a call if you or a loved one is considering retirement in Lewes. Our compassionate team can answer your questions about life at The Lodge at Historic Lewes, and is happy to book you a community tour.

Written by The Lodge at Historic Lewes

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