Several studies have shown that alcohol can have a direct effect on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In this article we would like to discuss the results of several studies that were done on this subject so that all of the caregivers and family members of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients will be aware of how alcohol can affect the disease. Those who drink alcohol on a daily basis have shown to have a decreased chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease when compared to those who abstain from drinking or very rarely drink. That being said, it is important to note that those who abuse alcohol were far more likely to get Alzheimer’s than those who drink in moderation.
Alcohol consumption in moderation can help slow or prevent the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. For those who have mild cognitive impairment, it is said that one drink a day can slow the development of dementia by as much as 85%. That means that those who drink at least one drink a day will develop dementia at an 85% slower rate than those who do not drink. In studies that compared seniors aged 75 and older, those that drink were still only half as likely as non-drinkers to develop dementia.
Studies that looked at the cognitive function of older women (age 65+) found that women who moderately consumed alcohol scored better on memory, concentration, abstract reasoning and language tests and were 20% less likely to experience poor memory as they aged compared to non-drinkers. Several studies have shown that moderate drinkers of both sexes receive higher scores on cognitive tests and demonstrate less signs of cognitive decline as they age.
Even though moderate drinking can be good for your brain, it is important to understand what moderation means and avoid alcohol abuse and excessive drinking. Excessive drinking can lead to what is called alcohol dementia. Alcohol dementia is caused by long term alcohol abuse and it can result in serious neurological damage and memory loss. Even for those without alcohol dementia, up to 10% of patients diagnosed with regular dementia have a history of alcohol abuse. If you are under 65, consuming too much alcohol can cause early onset Alzheimer’s disease or early onset dementia, most commonly presented as alcohol dementia.
When it comes to what type alcohol you should drink, the studies suggest that it does not matter what type you drink and the participants in the studies commonly drank beer, wine or liquor. It is important to keep in mind that beer, wine and liquor or mixed drinks contain different amounts of alcohol which means that the standard amount for these drinks will vary. A standard drink of beer is one 12 ounce can or bottle, but a standard drink of regular wine is only 5 ounces because it contains a higher alcohol volume. If you are drinking port wine or sherry, you should only drink about 3 or 4 ounces and if you are drinking hard liquor you should only have a 1.5 ounce shot. Knowing how much alcohol is in a standard drink is very important in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
For those who are caregivers of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to monitor their alcohol intake. Alcohol in moderation can slow the progression of dementia, but Alzheimer’s patients might have a hard time remembering how much they have had to drink and how much is in a standard drink. Allowing someone with Alzheimer’s to drink too much can cause further memory impairment and speed up the progression of their disease. In order to improve your loved one’s quality of life, you should make sure that they do not consume too much alcohol on a daily basis so that their disease will not progress too quickly. Limiting your loved one’s consumption of alcohol can also make caring for them easier by decreasing the likelihood that they will become agitated during the times that they need help or care.
Be sure that you know what moderate drinking is for your weight, age and gender or for your loved one that you are providing care for so that you can avoid alcohol abuse that could lead to cognitive impairment. When it comes to drinking alcohol keep in mind the tips from this article so that you can drink responsibly and in moderation and hopefully prevent yourself from developing Alzheimer’s disease or help a loved one slow the progression of their disease.