Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's Deepens

Expert Caregivers Carol Bradley Bursack, Dorian Martin and Lynne Taetzsch share their thoughts on a New York Times article linking the rising rates of diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Monday's New York Times article Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's Deepens provides alarming statistics indicating that increases in diabetes may contribute to the rising toll from Alzheimer's.

Expert Caregiver Carol Bradley Bursack, author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories, expert caregiver and journalist Dorian Martin and caregiver expert Lynne Taetzsch, author of The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles: How a Manic-Depressive Artist Survives Being the Primary Caregiver for Her Father and Ex-Mother-in-Law share their views on this article and their hopes for the future.

Carol Bradley Bursack, author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories:

This study is both frightening and hopeful.

The frightening part is that the rise of type 2 diabetes seems to be echoing the rise in obesity. If this diabetes increases one's risk for Alzheimer's disease, the idea of not controlling diabetes is unthinkable.

The hopeful part, I find, is that, if substantiated by more studies, controlling diabetes may help stem the impending Alzheimer's epidemic. If the link is found to be substantial, it should spur more research that will, in the end, benefit those at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and, in the best case scenario, reverse the disease.

Research for medications to control Type 2 diabetes is needed. If the same drugs are found to help prevent or control Alzheimer's disease, that would be a huge. Two catastrophic diseases can be studied together and perhaps progress can be made to treat or even prevent both of them.


Expert Caregiver Dorian Martin:

Because dementia and Alzheimer's Disease has been prevelant in the maternal side of my family, I think that our family probably has a genetic link that leads to this disease. With that said, I believe that an individual's health is comprised of a system, and that the failure (or change) of one physical component can trigger another medical issue. Logically, diabetes seems like an illness that can lead to Alzheimer's (as can other medical challenges such as heart disease and gum disease).

The results of this study reinforce why it is so important to take ownership of our own health, and to think holistically about what we are doing to and for our body. By choosing wisely what we eat, making time for exercise, watching our weight, taking care of important health care rituals (seeing the doctor, brushing our teeth) and learning to deal with stress, we give ourselves a fighting chance to at least delay - and possibly prevent - the variety of illnesses that can eventually lead to Alzheimer's Disease.


Lynne Taetzsch, author of The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles: How a Manic-Depressive Artist Survives Being the Primary Caregiver for Her Father and Ex-Mother-in-Law:

New studies showing the connection between Alzheimer's and Type 2 diabetes are frightening in one sense, because the increase in diabetes means we are likely to have a big increase in Alzheimer's as well. But the fact that this connection has been found means we may be closer to finding out the causes of Alzheimer's, and therefore, closer to a cure or at least some relief.

It is probably too soon to tell if glitazones, drugs that lower blood sugar by helping the body process insulin more efficiently, might also help prevent or slow down the advance of Alzheimer's. But early signs that it might are heartening. We desperately need any and every possible cure or preventative to be researched vigorously.