Is my husband's disorientation a product of alcoholism or dementia?

Puddintame asked...

My husband is an alcoholic with a family history of dementia. His mother and grandmother both had it. When he gets up in the middle of the night he is frequently disoriented for approximately 5 to 15 minutes of not knowing where he is. Is this normal for an alcoholic or should I be more worried?

Expert Answer

Mikol Davis, PhD has worked in community hospitals with geriatric patients suffering from dementia, depression, and other psychiatric problems. He has a doctorate in Psychology from the University of San Francisco and has been in private practice in Marin County, California. Davis co-founded AgingParents.com with his wife, Carolyn Rosenblatt.

Dear Wife of an Alcoholic,

Here is my short answer about whether or not you should be concerned about your husband's nighttime disorientation. YES!!

Unfortunately alcohol does permanently kill brain cells. Your husband has a biological pre-disposition for dementia. The first telephone call you need to make is to get a referral to a neurologist who can order a neuropsychological evaluation. This will help provide you and your husband with critical answers to your health concerns.

In contacting the physician, sure to give specific detail about his night waking and disorientation. I can be helpful to keep a log for a week or two, noting how long he is disoriented each time.