Charities warn of booze and dementia link

Booze and dementia cropped

​While links between heavy drinking, cancer and liver disease are well known, charities say relatively few people are aware of links to dementia

Graham Martin's photo

1st December 2016 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

More action is needed to make people aware of the link between alcohol and dementia, say charities.

Age Scotland and Drink Wise Age Well say the risks are not well known enough.

They have produced a new study which shows the links between drinking heavily and forms of alcohol-related dementia alcohol-related dementia such as Wernicke – Korsakoff Syndrome.

While the link between heavy drinking and conditions like heart disease and liver disease is better understood as a result of extensive public health campaigns, far fewer people are aware of the link with dementia, say the charities.

Alcohol plays an increasing part in our society at this time of year therefore it is vital there is greater awareness of the risks

Last year a Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showed that for each of the five risk factors for dementia, including heavy drinking, only between a quarter and a half of respondents correctly identified these behaviours as risk factors.

Alcohol misuse in young adults is the biggest risk factor for men who develop early-onset dementia.

The new publication, Alcohol and Dementia, has been funded by the Life Changes Trust.

Keith Robson, deputy chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “Alcohol plays an increasing part in our society at this time of year, but it is important for all of us to be aware that not only heart disease and kidney problems can result from heavy drinking, but forms of dementia too.

“Loneliness and isolation can also be factors in people drinking more, and that is why Age Scotland believes it is so vital there is greater awareness of the risks attached.

“This publication provides information on the impact of drinking on the brain and on NHS guidelines on units of consumption as well. Age Scotland is committed to increasing awareness of dementia and risk factors for dementia through our Early Stage Dementia Project, and Alcohol and Dementia is an important part of that work.”

Julie Breslin, head of programme for Drink Wise, Age Well said: “Alcohol consumption and related harms are increasing in older adults but reducing in younger people, and as our ageing population grows we may start to see conditions such as dementia become more common. 

“However, many older adults want to maintain their independence, health and well-being for as long as possible and it is important that reliable and accessible information, like this alcohol and dementia resource, is made available so they can make healthier choices”. 

10th March 2017 by Angela mennie

I had no idea whatsoever that alcohol could cause such dementia until June 2016 when my dad became ill. His marriage broke down many years ago and he turned to drink, many years later there was more disappointment in his life, he continued drinking lager. As time went on he became a binge drinker, 3-7 days solid drinking, very little good then ill for a few days. Eventually this became a pattern, a way of life for my dad. I worried daily for him, his employers worried for him until he sadly lost his job. He Was a Turner Engineer by trade, the only job he'd some since leaving school in 1966. He lost his home, his friends and those who cared for him because all he lived for was his next pint. Unfortunately we know about heard problems, liver failure etc but never in my wildest dreams did I expect what was yet to come. May 2016 my dad started complaining of sore legs, I urged him to seek medical advice but he refused. One day in June 2016 when I spoke to him he seemed a bit muddled, confused at times and when I called him there was no answer. After 3 days on getting no reply I went to his temporary accomodation, I knew he was inside but he couldn't get to the door. Long story short is since 18/6/2016 my dad has been in hospital, he has been diagnosed with korsikoffs dementia (alcohol related brain damage) on occasions he doesn't know who I am let alone where he is. The sore legs turned out to be spinal fract ( a blood clot near his spinal cord) which would of been treatable with help but because of the dementia he does not understand instructions. He is now wheelchair bound and his right leg iscompletely paralised and is left leg almost completely paralised, he believes he can walk resulting in many falls we are now waiting for a care home as he has bèn deemed incapable by the mental health team and needs 24 hour care. I'm doing a sponsored walk on 18/4/2017 and would love to donate anything I make to help make people more aware of the risks involved consuming alcohol. Please can you send me details on how to make a donation.