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Does badly managed diabetes affect memory?

Discussion in 'Type 2 Diabetes' started by IronLioness, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,

    My Dad has diabetes T2 and uses metformin and the little insulin pen, but as far as I can see he's not controlling his condition. He eats what he wants, and continues to eat cakes, sweets, general bad stuff etc. He thinks that he can do this because 'the metformin will take care of it' and thus thinks, the metformin allows him to eat whatever he wants, still. He does hold back on a few things, but recently there's been oodles of sugary food he's had.

    The issue, his memory seems to be getting so much worse of late, forgetting the most obvious of things that he's done - taking the car for its MOT, even forgetting the ice cream he's eaten. He is 76.

    Now this might be normal and due to age, but my question is this - if he doesn't get his condition under control and manage it properly, could that make his memory worse, or even worse, push him to m towards alzheimers or dementia? I don't know if there's a link...?

    All experience or advice much appreciated as he's just completely unwilling to stop eating the junk and honestly doesn't believe that the metformin isn't there just so he can continue eating whatever he wants.
     
  2. Jomary

    Jomary Type 2 · Active Member

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  3. Jomary

    Jomary Type 2 · Active Member

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    Hi I to am 76, been type two for ten years. Eight years without meds now one metformin a day. Your fathers diet and his failure to understand his condition in my opinion is cause for concern.. because he is older does not mean automatically that his memory could become impaired. But I would suggest a visit to his G,P. with you in attendance or does his local hospital run a clinic.. His health could become a worry if he does not fully understand his condition, he certainly needs some guidance
     
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  4. Brunneria

    Brunneria Other · Moderator
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    @IronLioness
    Sadly, it does.

    From my own experience:
    Just before I accepted that my bgs were nudging diagnosis levels I had a period of brain fog. It had me seriously questioning whether i might be experiencing early onset dementia.

    Fortunately, when I knuckled down and got my bgs under control, my memory sharpened up again - though not to the point it had once been. I still mourn it, but function OK, and have a few coping mechanisms, such as heavier use of my phone calendar, lists, recipes, etc.

    One thing that breaks my heart is that I sometimes pick up a book that looks vaguely familiar, and by half way through, the vague deja vue is really annoying me.
    Then I discover i read it during the 2 year Brain Fog.



    Depending on how severe your father’s memory issues are, you may want to look up the links between insulin resistance and Alzheimers. The brain can get insulin resistant too, you see. I have a family member who was diagnosed T 2 and Alzheimers within a few months of each other. He now eats lower carb than most people and it is progressing much slower than his health team expected, but it is impossible to keep him to keto, and I expect as the Alzheimers progresses, his willingness to stay low carb will fade.

    There are lots of studies on the subject, with a whole range of outcomes. As far as I can see you have to wade through the usual minefields of whether the studies were done on mice, or humans, how well formulated the keto/low carb intake was, and of course the extent and type of memory impairment, and the type and extent of the tests used.

    This link may help a bit.
    https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/benefits/alzheimers

    If you are worried about your father, then seeking help early can make quite a difference. And if his memory is deteriorating, then an assessment is very important, if only to ensure he is safe to drive. In our family, it made for some very difficult, but necessary, conversations.
     
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  5. Jaylee

    Jaylee Type 1 · Moderator
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    Hi @IronLioness ,

    The experience with my own dad & his T2.. He was probably the same mindset as your father? (Mine never ate junk food.)
    He was on metformin only. The drug probably got pushed as a "silver bullet" along with a low fat, carb sourced from veg, pasta & bread balanced diet too? (Standard eatwell set up?)

    Anyhow, he had a stroke... "Mini stroke" he miraculously recovered & went back to work... He was retired in his 70s but didn't like to give up work completely...

    I should have seen the signs... One morning a number of years ago when I popped round & he was "red lining" the car? He just sat there revving it. When I asked what was wrong, he told me there was something wrong with the clutch.. (My dad was no "boy racer.")
    I looked the car over, checked the biting point & took the car for a road test... It drove fine..

    A couple of weeks or so later, my parents were comming back from a shopping trip. My dad stalled the car at a junction near their home & totally forgot how start the car or even drive...
    A kind passer by drove them home & my mum called an ambulance. Diagnosis. Vascular dementia...

    During his illness, we did manage to lower his carb intake in his diet to the point of lowering his A1c & thus getting him off metformin. But alas too late for anything else.

    I feel uncontrolled diabetes don't help..
     
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  6. Suz2

    Suz2 · Active Member

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    I can't remember. LOL
    Seriously. Diabetes affects the blood vessels and can lead to a build up of calcium that restricts blood flow. This causes all kinds of complications, one of which can be memory problems.
    I've been diabetic for over 30 years. At 61 I had a heart stent due to blockage. Your father may have similar blockages in his brain. Diagnostic texting can help determine if this memory problem is due to blood flow issues.
    However, it may not lead to better compliance, that problem can be attitudinal.
     
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  7. Robbity

    Robbity Type 2 · Expert

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    I agree with @Brunneria, having suffered for over 5 years worth od zombie brain fog before I was eventually diagnosed with T2. I was eating a very carby diet (due to husband's high carb shopping/cooking preferences). Going to a very low carb diet cleared the fog and has kept my head clear. I'm slightly older than your dad, being a couple of weeks off 77 now.

    My experience with metformin, which I've no longer been prescribed for the last couple of years, was that it didn't obviously do much for my glucose levels. It was low carbing that brought my glucose levels down and has kept them at low pre-diabetic figures for the past five and a half years.

    I've also seen research suggesting that very low carb/ketogenic diets are showing promise in controlling Alzheimers. Both my mother and maternal aunt suffered from senile dementia, so that's a big concern for me, especially after my long period of brain fog. But one of the extra benefits of these diets is mental clarity - brains run very nicely on ketones, so it's certainly something worth considering, even though there may be other reasons for your dad's confusion issues.

    Robbity
     
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  8. Jomary

    Jomary Type 2 · Active Member

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    I would love to know what you eat if it is possible would you post a days food....I keep to low carb but find I’m restricted due to being unable to eat many vegetables
     
  9. bobcurly

    bobcurly Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Please remember there are other reasons for brain fog, anaemia being a common one so he needs to see a gp for some bloods
     
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  10. jjraak

    jjraak Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @IronLioness
    sorry hear dad is causing you worries.

    may well be just getting older...hope it is.

    watched my mum slowly slip into alzheimer's/senile dementia..awful

    so good your keeping an eye on him.

    My OH her father is similar, we can't tell him, he thinks it's a game.
    But he eats very sparingly, so the impact may be less then expected.

    Have looked before when this has come up, and i suppose it does make sense.
    if diabetes can cause neuropathy due to damage to nerve endings, how do we think the brain works..?

    But does it mean its a definite..no.

    i did a quick Dr google and found a US site, that suggests as do many others i'd wager that XYZ is the case.
    So let me just quote the part is read and leave the link to source.

    https://www.goodrx.com/blog/ten-myths-about-metformin/

    "...
    4) Metformin causes dementia.
    No. In fact, a recent study of 17,000 veterans with diabetes found that taking metformin was associated with a lower risk of dementia than other diabetes drugs known as sulfonylureas (like glyburide and glipizide). And just this month, a study showed that metformin use was associated with reduced rates of dementia and improved cognitive function among African American patients with type 2 diabetes..."

    Now link is US based and i get there using VPN, so you may not get in, but i'm sure the link or similar is on many other pages if you search.

    Personally i kept on taking metformin once i hit normal reading, was always my intention.
    as i had heard it had preventative qualities for a few things.
    so this interested me.

    "..
    7) Metformin raises cholesterol.
    Nope! In fact, metformin has improves lipid (cholesterol) metabolism and lowers LDL cholesterol along with triglycerides.

    8) Metformin is bad for the pancreas.
    Metformin is not a known cause of acute pancreatitis and lowers (not raises) the risk of pancreatic cancer.

    9) Metformin causes cancer.
    This is also not true. Metformin appears to be protective. In just one example, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) found that metformin was associated with fewer cancer-related death in patients with diabetes. Studies also show that metformin may prevent colorectal polyps from returning after removal. These tiny growths in the colon can turn into cancer, which suggests that metformin may play a protective role in colon cancer..."

    now due diligence is required from you to check yourself,
    but i'd agree the diet for dad, may not be helping.
    BUT the Met may well have other benefits for a man in his Mid 70's.

    However..and i know this isn't popular.
    life has to have some joy, and at 76, will T2D diabetes have the time or impact it would have at 50 or 60
    to do such damage as to seriously impact his life, given expectancy will be lower ?
    Sorry if that's too blunt, not intended to hurt.

    Not saying we shouldn't keep an eye on our elders
    but we have to be reasonable, the effort of LCHF V the Enjoyment of foods we like
    is an important one.

    I guess it sums it it, by saying would any of us want to increase our lives, by being perfect angels right now until we die.
    knowing that those last few years may well be as infirm, incontinent, & perhaps in our own brain fog, just because of our increased age. ?


    Sensible about foods, yes..
    religious about it...no, not for me.

    i for one, would happily trade a fistfull of memories and living RIGHT now,
    and for many years to come, then forgo all the Joy in life in the hope i live to 120+

    These are calls we'll all have to make for our parents and for ourselves, at some point.

    best of luck looking after dad.
    Hope you found a way forward that suits you both.
     
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  11. Robbity

    Robbity Type 2 · Expert

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    Is that because you are unable for a particular (health) reason, or feel you can't due to what you consider is permitted while low carbing?

    But really this should be in a thread of its own as information about my diet or daily menu aren't directly relevant to what's being discussed here regarding @IronLioness's dad. Ask @Brunneria if you'd like to start a new thread with you question. Or there are also existing threads about low carb diets and specifically what various low carbing members (including myself on occasions!) eat every day here:
    https://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/what-have-you-eaten-today.36803/

    Robbity
     
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  12. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jomary,
    Thanks for this, I've tried to talk this through with the both of them in the last few days, but he absolutely won't listen to me at all. He's resolute that he knows what he's doing, or rather, he just simply won't believe me, he's firmly in the mindset that he can eat these sugary things and just bolster up on the insulin pen thingy that he uses. I've asked him to speak to the Docs, but that definitely is off the cards, he's refused outright.
     
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  13. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Brunneria, really appreciate the link and information. I've been talking about this with them over the past few days, and it's been complete shutdown on me. They both (my Mum has T2, too) refuse outright to acknowledge that it's a potential problem. When I said they both need to help each other, the response from my Mum, whilst my Dad was out and we could have a serious chat, was that she's concerned for him because she feels that he's 'not right', but when I suggest doing something about it, even something simple like looking at their own diet and trying to make it better, she just shuts me down and said it's "too difficult" to change. I take that as her actually saying "I don't want to", because she won't change her diet, she doesn't seem to want to help him as refuses outright to go see the Doctor with him, and then she just shuts down the conversation, yeesh.... In the meantime, she's not looking after her own T2, she has no idea what her BG is, she doesn't know what Metformin she takes, she just leaves it up to my Dad to give her the right amount of tablets. And then she (and he) continue to eat whatever they want, really. It's honestly soul destroying to see this happen. I've tried to ask my sister to have a word with her, but again, it falls on deaf ears. My sister says that she thinks it's because they're both older and therefore they'll eat what they want, because they're older in life and just want to enjoy it. None of that makes sense to me when a simple shift in diet could help them live longer, even if just a bit. Not really sure what else I can do, they've both literally shut me down on this in the past few days, and seem to be going down the 'ignorance is bliss' mindset....
     
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  14. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Oh Jaylee, I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. :-(

    I can take onboard what you're saying, though, as this is my fear about where this is heading. The 'forgetful' moments worry me, because he's always been razor sharp with his memory. His diet I would honestly say is overall not hugely bad, he knows he can't eat platefuls of rice and isn't too bad on keeping the general carbs low, but the sugar things and memory loss worry me. My Mum doesn't help and between them, they just blame each other for buying sugar foods (ie. cheesecakes/sherry trifles/packs of white choc cookies etc). I see all this when I drop around to see them and it plays on my mind because neither seems willing to help not just themselves and each other. I had a serious chat with my Mum about it in the past few days, but there was no point, she shut me down, and outright said she won't change her diet and she won't take/go with him to see the doc. So I'm currently at stalemate over what to do. I know this isn't healthy, and I've even shown him articles on the internet about not controlling his diabetes properly, but it has no effect. This is the man that lost half a foot through amputation due to his diabetes, so you'd think he knows this isn't good for him. Not sure what else I can do, it's really frustrating to watch this play out...
     
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  15. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this, Suz2. It's definitely attitude based, and I'm having lots of challenges trying to get through to him (and her). Will keep trying..
     
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  16. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Robbity, I think I'm going to need to try different tactics, because they're not taking their condition seriously at all. The experience you've described with the dementia actually runs in our family on his side, as does strokes and heart attacks, actually, which is quite scary, too. Even with all of that, he's unwilling to go and get checked or just cut out the sugar stuff. My Mother actively encourages him to eat the sugar stuff with her, she's got no idea how to control diabetes and doesn't seem to want to. I think I'll just have to pick my moments and continue to reiterate how important it is to look after themselves, although I fear it'll just fall on deaf ears. I'll give it a shot, though.
     
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  17. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this, jjraak , it's spot on and I totally take this on board, you've hit a nerve which I think I need to consider, it's the balance element. They're not both scoffing sugar things all the while and I would say, for the most part, my Dad is quite well behaved with his overall diet. I'm maybe being too hard because I've noticed the increase in the 'treats', although my Dad manages them better than my Mum who doesn't at all comprehend her diabetes, nor does she seem to want to! But, I like what you've said, it's definitely helped me take a step back and re-look. There's not much I can do really apart from be there to support when support is needed and give/pass on info I find on my own journey which they might find helpful.

    The good news is that my Dad is way WAY more receptive to general info on T2 than my Mum is, so that's a good thing I guess. He absolutely won't go to the Docs but at least I can keep giving him information to try and help, in a way.

    Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
     
  18. jjraak

    jjraak Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @IronLioness

    Oh dear, what an awful situation for you.

    I'd like to say just sit back and be there IF needed, but that's not going toi be easy or possible when it's people we adore and love.

    So what can we do.

    Depending on how well your new tack goes with dad.
    I'd say your quite limited.

    Of course if you HAD the time, and who has these days, you could
    do or go shopping with mum
    Assuming it's not delivered each week

    That would give you a chance to 'treat' mum, and not pop untold sugary items into basket, but perhaps swap out one or two and pop in a few better class (carb) foods then she might buy.

    Resistance WILL be high, but over time and given a chance, she (meaning They) MIGHT get to like the new choices.
    IF you were able to add in perhaps cooking the odd meal here and there (Low carb),
    then that, By dint of being full COULD lower the intake of the sugary treats as they MIGHT be too full.

    Not guaranteed, and a lot of effort.
    (trust me i know..9 years for mum and dad, with occasional time off, Lovely niece took a turn of two <Bless her> )

    failing that, i'm afraid you have little choice but to let them live their own lives (hard i know)
    and just be there, as said.

    One tip i can offer, and this is really for going forward.

    Do NOT be afraid to take time to care for yourself.
    It's IMPORTANT...Don't forget it.

    While i'm sure a few ooh, and ahh'd as i rode off for a day.
    That ONE day recharged my batteries, SO i COULD get back to what was becoming my Day Job,
    ( was in full time work as well) without burning out and being NO good to them or me.

    Best wishes for some movement forward
    Take Care of Yourself @IronLioness
    (love that choice of name :))
     
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  19. IronLioness

    IronLioness Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks jjraak, the shopping and cooking ideas I've tried before, but alas Mum and Dad are super sneaky and she won't have other people buy her food - she sussed early on that she wouldn't be able to get her treats etc, but both are also fiercely independent so like to do their own thing. I'm more concerned about my Dad at the moment but as you rightly say, I'm limited on what I can do to 'support', apart from just be there, of sorts.

    I definitely agree with the taking care of myself element, since my own diagnosis in Oct last year, I definitely have changed my own life around and continue to look after myself. I won't go back to the old ways, my health is absolutely paramount to me. Good health and wellbeing is the way forward. :)

    Thanks again, genuinely appreciate your comments, as with everyone on this fine forum, you're all definitely a massive reason I've been able to manage my own health - shared learning, I love it! :)
     
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  20. jjraak

    jjraak Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Winner, with an added HUG.
    Not easy.
    and parents sneaky....LoL..

    Mine were too.

    independence and self determination.
    .it's got them so far, so it's hard to give up.

    I guess to them we are always the Child.

    :)
     
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