Alcohol induced dementia - help needed

Discussion in 'Younger people with dementia and their carers' started by concerned2015, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. concerned2015

    concerned2015 Registered User

    Feb 22, 2015
    In desperate need of both insight and advice

    I am concerned that my mother may be showing signs of Korsakoff syndrome. As for her background, she has a history of alcohol abuse, including severe abuse stretching over 4/5 years. The alcoholism has now largely subsided, unfortunately not stopped entirely. She is 54 years old and used to hold a very strong mind and be an intelligent individual however her cognitive capability has substantially depleted.
    I have been researching alcohol induced dementia and need to know more about the symptoms and treatments.

    The symptoms I’ve noticed so far cover a range of examples of mental deterioration:
    - Confabulation – many instances of imagined memories and confusing these with reality, for instance, believing that I had been in hospital with her for several days, when in fact I had just called up to see how she was; believing that she had been in hospital for 1 / 2 weeks when in fact it was just the one night; imagining other events such as conversations and believing they are reality
    - Confusion – for example confusing 11.30pm for 11.30am and leaving the house in the middle of the night to walk 30mins to the centre where she volunteers; not recognising her surroundings and attempting to enter the wrong property
    - Forgetfulness

    You will notice the above events mention hospital, this is where I need gaps filling in… she has been in hospital on several occasions for collapses when out and about, and has had reported confusion yet this has not been escalated

    She is also on medication for low levels of thiamine, another symptom of Korsakoff syndrome. Despite numerous episodes in hospital she has not yet been diagnosed, does this sound like it could be early symptoms of dementia? Do I have a case to push further for help?

    There is an added difficulty in not knowing exactly what is going on as we live at opposite ends of the country and I rely on second hand, often very muddled, information.

    I would really appreciate any advice anyone could give on what this could be and how best to go about getting help.

    Thank you
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
  3. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    There could be any number of reasons for her behaviour, you say "I have been researching alcohol induced dementia" but it could be anything from a brain tumour, thyroid problems and a hundred other causes your search may well prove to be correct but google diagnosis isn't the best of things.
    Personally I'd contact her GP in writing listing all the events that have occurred in the hope that bringing it to their attention will kick them into action but you may well have to break through the wall of patient confidentiality. Secondly I'd contact the social services in her area and report her as "a vulnerable adult" once she has been reported as such they will have to at least look into it.
    From the sound of things she is a danger to herself and I'm surprised these events haven't triggered something before, I don't know which area she lives in but it sounds a bit sloppy that no one has picked up on this so far so it looks like you may have to do some pushing.
  4. LucyCW

    LucyCW Registered User

    Feb 25, 2015
    Rainham Kent
    Hi, my brother in law was exhibiting the same symptoms and knowing he had drink issues since age 14 (now 61) I had the same suspicions. It took a year and his almost cutting off his ear, he thought he was cutting rind of bacon! To get him diagnosed with Korsakoff syndrome.
    That said I agree that there could be many other reasons that need to be checked out too.
    Getting the diagnosis is sadly not the end of the problem, but 18 months down the road I'm happy to offer any help/support I can.
    Good luck.
  5. redsox

    redsox Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    This sounds so much like a friend of mine. I noticed memory problems in 2010.
    I tried GP, mental health, addiction unit, adult social care.
    After many tries, adult social care assigned him a social worker, yes the key word is vulnerable. He was very vulnerable by then, people had moved in on him and were stealing. This hopefully will not happen with your mother, my friend would sit on his doorstep ("just to feel part of the world") and invite anyone passing in, just for someone to talk to.
    GP said it was not possible to get a diagnosis because my friend was not alcohol free for a long enough period.
    We never got a diagnosis for Korsokoffs, but I was sure that was what he had. The confabulations were very striking. My mother has vascular dementia and it was different.
    My friend, last year was diagnosed with lymphoma and died in Dec. He could maybe have had a better outcome, but he had trouble engaging and being organised with health care.
    Vitamin B12 and thiamine are both important, but they must be able to remember to take it three times a day!
    I wish you success, and keep trying, sometimes its a case of just getting the right person on the phone. Remember to look after yourself it can be draining.
  6. NitaB

    NitaB Registered User

    Apr 4, 2015
    I also need help with this

    My brother also has Korsakoff syndrome and is still drinking heavily and very ill but GP says he still has mental capacity so cannot do anything under the mental health act. How can someone unable to make new memories have capacity? I have come up against a brick wall trying to get help so if you have found any help or if anyone else has any advice it would be much appreciated. My brother has been turned down for funding for detox by the community alcohol service and cannot be detoxed in hospital unless a medical emergency so it seems he has to be hit by a bus or have organ failure before he gets any help? Community mental health team will not accept referral whilst still drinking. Seems like the various "teams" are playing an excruciatingly slow game of ping pong with his life because no one wants to spend their budget on him. He is one of the most vulnerable and disabled people, who cannot advocate for himself :confused::mad:

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