My mom has type 2 diabetes. Could she also have dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Mar 28, 2016
Lynn-1 asked...

My mom will be 69. She has type 2 diabetes. For several months now she has been calling the police saying someone broke into her home, her car, they stole this, that, you name it, they have taken it from her or her car. After some time goes by she or I will find the item or items. She is on several medications. I asked her doctor about dementia and the answer I got was he sees diabetes dementia at times. What I see is full blown dementia. Any idea how I can help her and try to understand what is going on? Mind you, my mother still works 40 hours a week. When she works a lot of overtime her symptoms seem worse. What do we need to talk to her about now to prevent major stress later?

Expert Answers

Paula Spencer Scott, contributing editor, is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

It sounds like your mother might benefit from a second opinion, ideally a neurologist, geriatric psychologist or other specialist in memory disorders. There is no clinical disease called "diabetes dementia." Dementia is a word used to describe a cluster of symptoms such as memory loss and problems with cognition. It can have many causes, such as Alzheimer's disease. Having diabetes is increasingly considered a large risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. More people with diabetes develop dementia than people without diabetes. (But having diabetes doesn't mean you will definitely develop dementia.)

Any time that memory and other cognitive issues affect day to day behavior, it's a good idea to have the issue checked out. Stress and medications can affect performance. Your mom should ask her regular doctor for a referral, or consult a memory clinic, such as at a nearby university, on her own.

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