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Is There a Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Alzheimer’s?

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Nearly five million older adults in the United States live with Alzheimer’s disease, and the number is projected to increase four times by the year 2050. Researchers continue studying the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease to find effective treatments, and drinking alcohol has been thought to be a contributing factor. Here’s what you need to know about the link between excessive alcohol consumption and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alcohol/Alzheimer’s Connection

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome occurs when individuals prioritize drinking over eating a nutritious diet, which results in a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. The disorder is known to cause cognitive and physical impairment. When addicted individuals give up alcohol, start eating a healthy diet, and increase their vitamin B1 intake, the conditions may reverse.

Under normal conditions, microglial cells remove excess amyloid-beta proteins from the brain. Alzheimer’s disease develops when the microglial cells of the glymphatic system fail to perform the job efficiently. The proteins increase in number and stick together, which results in plaques that impact the communication between synapses. The conglomeration also interferes with normal blood flow to the cells, leading to permanent cell damage and eventually death. 

Caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging task. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Scottsdale home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.

Study Results

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) found a link between excessive drinking and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When someone drinks alcohol, the microglial cells become irritated and inflamed, which impairs their function. The scientists used rats to study the effects of alcohol on the brain.

One group of laboratory animals were given alcohol. Another group had inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals in the brain. A third group was exposed both to alcohol and inflammatory cells and compounds. After a period of 24 hours, the scientists examined the animals’ brains to determine possible gene expression alterations and the action of the microglial cells.

The experiment revealed that alcohol prevents the microglia from performing their function. Thus, amyloid-beta proteins were allowed to accumulate and habitual alcohol consumption contributed to the physiological actions that lead to Alzheimer’s development.

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious medical condition that impacts an older adult’s health, wellbeing, and independence. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Scottsdale seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Alcohol Consumption Guidelines Need Revisiting

Many studies encourage alcohol consumption in moderation. Alcoholic beverages are thought by some to have beneficial effects on the brain and cardiovascular system. However, following the UIC study, researchers advise that people greatly reduce the amount of alcohol they drink. They also warn about binge and habitual drinking, which may further hasten the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The group also believes that further studies must be undertaken to fully learn the correlation between alcohol use and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Aging adults with Alzheimer’s disease can benefit from receiving professional Alzheimer’s care. Scottsdale seniors need regular mental stimulation when managing memory-related conditions, and a reliable in-home caregiver who has extensive training in Alzheimer’s care can be a great asset. If your elderly parent needs high-quality in-home care, call Home Care Assistance at 480.448.6215 today.