Alcohol Dementia

There are many different disorders and mental health issues that can cause dementia, and alcohol dementia – as it sounds – happens after years of alcohol abuse and addiction. Resulting in memory loss and the inability to retain new information, victims of the disorder can lose other cognitive functioning as well.

Are you concerned that the signs of alcohol dementia are appearing in someone you care about? Are you looking for the right kind of treatment to help them heal? Contact us today to learn more about your different options in care and how to begin the enrollment process for your family member.

Signs of Alcohol Dementia

You may notice:

  • Changes in your loved one’s personality. Increased irritability, no emotional response at all, discomfort with being alone, inappropriate behavior in public.
  • Difficulty in communicating with others. Doesn’t process responses, repeats questions, repeats stories, can’t follow the conversation, inability to find the right word.
  • Inability to solve problems. Forgets how to do simple tasks, can’t make simple decisions or trouble shoot.
  • Gets lost in familiar places. Doesn’t recognize family and close friends, no sense of time or space, gets lost in familiar places.

Is Your Loved One Living With Alcohol Dementia?+

  • Does he forget things easily?
  • Does he tell the same stories over and over as if for the first time within minutes?
  • Does he forget things that happened yesterday but remember everything that happened 20 years ago?
  • Does he still seem to have other mental faculties (e.g., plays games of skill well, reasons well, makes shrewd observations, etc.)?

If you answered “yes” and alcohol has been a chronic issue for him, then alcohol dementia may be setting in.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Similar to alcohol dementia is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a combination of two disorders that can strike together or separately, according to the Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals.

The symptoms of Wernicke’s disease are caused by damage to nerves throughout the brain, spinal cord and body, which is likely due to malnutrition that occurs in chronic alcoholism. The symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome include impairment to memory and cognitive function as well as nerve damage. The biggest sign? Detailed stories that are not true meant to cover up the fact that the individual cannot remember what really happened.

Harold’s Story

Harold drank heavily since his teen years. In and out of rehab, he never managed to stay sober for more than a few years at a time. A chronic relapser, he eventually went to live with his daughter. Though Harold was only in his early 50s, his daughter began to notice that he seemed not to recognize his grandchildren from time to time and was growing increasingly more irritable. When he got lost at the grocery store, ended up walking miles to a home he hadn’t lived in for more than two decades and seemed unable to tell police where he lived, she began to be concerned that alcohol dementia was the cause.

Does Alcohol Rehab Treat Alcohol Dementia?

Yes and no. According to the Dementia Education & Training Program, dementia will require medical care. The underlying addiction to alcohol may be the cause and the overall situation may improve with treatment for that addiction when sobriety results, but alcohol dementia requires medical care all its own.