Alcohol-Induced Dementia An Overlooked Problem

Megan Ray  |  June 5, 2013

Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have substantial health benefits for seniors. In fact, some studies suggest that a compound found in red wine - resveratrol - could be good for cardiovascular well-being. Unfortunately, certain seniors don't drink in moderation, with a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealing that adults 65 and older binge drink more frequently than any other demographic. In addition to many of the physical drawbacks of excessive alcohol consumption, drinking can take its toll on mental health, including through alcohol-induced dementia.

The medical community pays close attention to other forms of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease, but cognitive issues caused by a lifetime of excessive drinking can often go overlooked. Part of this stems from the fact that diagnosing alcohol-induced dementia can be difficult. For starters, doctors need to be familiar with years' worth of their patients' clinical history and lifestyle choices dating back years. While Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia are believed to be caused by the buildup of plaques, experts think that alcohol-related dementia is caused by a drastic reduction in the number of cortical neurons, according to the British Journal of Psychology.

It's important for family caregivers to recognize that excessive drinking among the elderly is just as dangerous as it is among younger adults. They should also familiarize themselves with some of the symptoms of alcohol-induced dementia, which often extend well beyond forgetfulness. For instance, significant mood swings and persistent agitation are both telltale signs, as are growing levels of confusion, problems with language and disorientation. 

Whether alcohol-induced or otherwise, dementia is among the biggest health issues facing the senior living community and dementia assisted living may be a helpful solution for your loved one. Experts from the World Health Organization estimate that the number of cases of dementia worldwide could triple by 2050, bringing the figure to more than 115 million. 

Alzheimer's & Memory Care Categories: