Question about alcohol and also sugar/diabetes

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Moorcroft, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    My perception, and that of my mum's cleaner too, is that mum is much worse, in the sense of being more confused and feeling ill, when she drinks and when she eats a lot of sugary stuff.

    As far as the alcohol is concerned, I'm not talking about binge drinking, although I'm not sure how much she does drink, probably between one and three units a day.

    The sugar is in biscuits and chocolate, that she can eat a lot of, despite having Type II diabetes.

    The last time I stayed with her I 'banned' sugar and alcohol -- threw away everything in the house. She was very cross with me, but mentally she sharpened up a lot. I was then undermined by the diabetic nurse at her surgery, who said that 'at mum's age' it didn't matter if she had a taste for sugary foods.

    Are we right, or does the sugar and alcohol have no implications for her dementia, even if it does for her diabetes?
  2. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    #2 Bod, Jan 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
    On the alcohol front, how many empties, are being thrown out, each week?
    Often "What are you buying/drinking?" won't get a truthful answer. Looking at the empties, can give a better picture.
    Keep a regular check on blood sugar levels, that will show the diabetes levels, adjust diet accordingly. (check B/S level daily)

    PS There was on here a thread the essence of which was.
    "I only have one glass a night" But they couldn't remember if they'd already had one.
    After being in hospital for a few days, they felt much better.
    Fuzzy head, poorly stomach, all gone!
  3. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Whether there is, or isn't, a link between sugar intake and dementia, I have no idea. But if your gut feeling is that it makes things worse, you are probably right.

    It could be that her blood sugar levels have a subtle effect on her behaviour, confusion, et cetera, that is hard to separate out from the effects of the dementia.

    Certainly the alcohol could be interacting/interfering with any or all of her medications, and that could also account for some of what you see. If the GP isn't aware of her alcohol intake, I'd pass that information along right away. I don't know enough about diabetes and blood sugars to know how much of a problem alcohol/sugar intake is for your mum, but I would be concerned about alcohol's effect on medications.

    I think Bod's suggestion of checking the empties, or the online bank statements, or receipts if you can find them, to get a better idea of how much alcohol, is a good one, and might give you more information.

    No easy answers, I know.
  4. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    'Only one glass a night' - I well remember my mother heading for the sherry bottle 3 times in half an hour. When I would gently point out that she'd only just had one, she would get very cross and indignant - of course she hadn't!

    She had never been much of a drinker at all pre dementia. But she began to start quite early in the day and we realised later than we should have that it was probably at least partly down to the fact that she'd forgotten how to make herself a cup of tea or coffee. So if she wanted something to drink, the bottle was the easiest thing.
  5. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    That lends a whole new meaning to dehydration - well spotted!
  6. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    Thanks for the answers.

    Mum's cleaner's perception is that mum drinks a lot more than I'd realised. Probably correct.

    I was tending to concentrate on cutting down her sugar intake, to stabilise her diabetes, but may be the diabetic nurse is right, and at this stage in mum's life it isn't that important. But, what I should be doing is trying to stop her drinking so much alcohol.

    When she moves near me in a few weeks time, I'll be doing her shopping, so I'll be able to monitor how much she is drinking much more closely.
  7. nita

    nita Registered User

    Dec 30, 2011
    #7 nita, Jan 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
    Moorcroft, there is a connection between memory loss and diabetes. The latter, if not controlled properly, can exacerbate the mental symptoms:-

    "Diabetes and memory loss are closely linked, and poorly controlled diabetes can cause memory loss. The brain runs on glucose and brain glucose storage is limited.

    To maintain normal brain functioning, people with diabetes need a constant supply of glucose from their blood.

    Memory loss and reduced brain functioning can occur during periods of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) can affect memory over the longer term for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes."

    Also, alcohol can cause changes in blood sugar levels:


    Drinking alcohol makes hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) more likely to occur, especially if your diabetes is treated with insulin or certain tablets.
    •To reduce the chance of a hypo, it is important not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach. A hypo can be confused with drunkenness when there is the smell of alcohol on your breath. So, it is important to tell people you are with that you have diabetes and what help you might need if you have a hypo. Also, make sure you carry some ID to let others know you have diabetes, such as an ID card, medical necklace or bracelet.
    •If you drink more than a few units during an evening, you will have an increased risk of hypos all night and into the next day too, as your liver continues to get rid of alcohol. Always snack on a starchy snack, such as cereal or toast, before bed to minimise this risk."
  8. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    A belated thanks for that! So, I wasn't wrong.
  9. Miss shiraz

    Miss shiraz Registered User

    Dec 24, 2014
    My MIL has diabetes too and her behaviours are exacerbated by alcohol and sugar. Her memory is better without. As others have mentioned she thinks she only has 'just the one' but there quickly becomes several 'just the one'.
    We raised it with the Memory Nurse who advised she needed to limit intake so we remind her of this but say she's been told not to drink gin due to her medication. Its easier to enforce when you do the shopping but occasionally a bottle appears and it is then confiscated by hubby... makes us appear so mean but we have to deal with the consequences. Last Christmas a whole box of mice pies disappeared in 24hrs... visitors she reckoned ... hmmmmm
    good luck, let us know how you get on.

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