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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

While the most common concern with diabetes is regulating blood sugar, it can have many other complications, making it important to communicate with your caregivers or medical professionals to help lessen the risk of developing further medical problems. This has led people to wonder whether or not diabetes can cause memory loss.

When unregulated or poorly managed, diabetes can lead to damage to the brain, leading to problems with cognitive function and memory. This is caused by elevated blood sugar levels and inflammation causing damage to parts of the brain responsible for certain functions closely associated with cognitive abilities. 

This makes it essential to properly regulate blood sugar levels and follow the advice of your healthcare professional to help reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related complications. 

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by an inability to regulate blood glucose levels properly. There are two primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the body
  • Type 2 diabetes, which typically develops due to a combination of natural insulin resistance and improper insulin production

These two types of diabetes cause a deficiency of insulin in the body, which is the hormone responsible for helping glucose get into your cells. Glucose provides your body with energy. When your body isn’t producing enough—or any—insulin or simply isn’t using insulin properly, glucose doesn’t reach your cells and stays in your blood.

If left uncontrolled, this high level of glucose can lead to many other long-term complications and damage your heart, feet, eyes, kidneys, and other parts of your body. This makes it essential to work with your primary healthcare provider or caregiving team to properly regulate your blood sugar levels to help lessen your risk of developing other medical complications.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Brain?

It isn’t just your body that can be affected by diabetes—your brain is also at risk of being damaged by high blood sugar levels. Your body is an incredibly complex mechanism with many interconnected parts, so when your blood sugar is too high, it can begin damaging many different parts at once.

Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to damage in your vascular system, which can lead to your blood vessels being compromised all throughout your body. This can lead to restricted blood flow to your brain, which can lead to many problems with memory and cognitive function.

Diabetes is also closely linked with chronic inflammation, which can damage the brain even further. When inflammation occurs in the brain (neuroinflammation), it can disrupt the normal processes occurring naturally in your brain, damaging cells and leading to further cognitive issues. 

Can Diabetes Affect Memory?

It’s suspected that diabetes can have a significant impact on memory and cognitive function due to how it affects blood flow and other parts of your body. The hippocampus, the brain region crucial for learning and memory, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of diabetes.

This region of the brain becomes much more likely to be negatively affected if diabetes is uncontrolled or poorly regulated. This means that the less a person’s blood sugar levels are controlled, the significantly higher they are at risk of developing problems with their cognitive function.

However, the effects diabetes may have on the brain can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • How long a person has had the condition
  • How well-controlled their blood sugar is
  • The type of diabetes
  • Their age
  • Their overall lifestyle and health
  • Other lifestyle factors like diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption

This makes it essential to not only maintain your blood sugar levels but to practice a healthy lifestyle overall. 

How to Lower the Risk of Diabetes-Related Complications

By taking proactive steps to improve your overall health, you may be able to lower your risk of developing other complications due to diabetes. It helps to do the following:

  • Properly check and regulate your blood sugar levels as recommended by your healthcare professional or caregiving team.
  • Practice healthy lifestyle choices. Incorporating a healthy diet and regularly exercising can help bring many benefits to your body, which can help combat some complications caused by diabetes.
  • Follow the advice of your medical professional. It’s extremely beneficial to take medication as prescribed and follow the recommendations offered by an experienced healthcare professional.
  • Regularly schedule check-ups with your doctor. This gives your doctor the opportunity to monitor your overall health and address any concerns you may have.

By taking active steps to improve your overall health, you can help lessen the risk of developing complications often associated with diabetes.

A group of seniors are sitting together on a bench, smiling and looking directly at the camera, with a nurse standing behind them

Maintaining Cognitive Health

When diabetes is involved, it’s always a good idea to seek professional help and advice. Diabetes is an extremely complicated medical condition that can affect many aspects of your daily life, so it helps to seek support from a team of caring professionals that offer the care you need.

At Heritage Pointe Senior Living, we know how important it is to take care of your overall health—especially when considering diabetes as a factor. Our team of trained caregivers has experience helping with a wide variety of medical conditions, and we’re here to help. If you or a loved one are in need of a senior living community that offers the care you deserve, schedule a visit with us today!

Written by Lifespark

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