Diabetes takes its toll on memory among the elderly

If you think that type 2 diabetes (the type that begins in adulthood) is harmless, take a few moments to read this article. The results of a new study have added to the evidence that diabetes can cause damage to the brain, producing declines in memory, attention and other cognitive skills.

If you think that type 2 diabetes (the type that begins in adulthood) is harmless, take a few moments to read this article. The results of a new study have added to the evidence that diabetes can cause damage to the brain, producing declines in memory, attention and other cognitive skills.

To reach these conclusions, researchers looked at over 3,000 Americans with an average age of 74. When the study began, 23 percent of the subjects had diabetes, while 5 percent developed it over the course of the study period.

The patients regularly underwent cognitive tests that assessed their memory, coordination, dexterity and ability to concentrate, as well as their overall mental health. At the start of the study, those who already had diabetes had slightly lower scores than the rest of the group. However, that gap had widened by nine years later, with diabetics scoring significantly lower than the other participants. The researchers also noted that the worse patients’ blood glucose control was, the worse their cognitive test results were. So in addition to causing complications such as vision problems, strokes, heart attacks and kidney disturbances, diabetes also has a negative impact on the elderly’s mental alertness.

The good news is that your risk of developing diabetes is dramatically reduced when you adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet as described in Canada’s Food Guide. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, you can significantly reduce your risk of complications by adopting those same healthy habits, taking your medication as prescribed, and undergoing follow-up exams as recommended. If you have questions on type 2 diabetes, don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.

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