Alzh;mer’s Disease DIAGNOSIS:
When Brian Van Buren, 66, learned he had Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, he felt overwhelmed and stopped
taking care of his type; 2 diabetes. “I found that as my blood sugar levels rose, my cognitive ability decreased
really significantly,” he says. Over time, he was simply forgetting to take his medication, including metformin and
basal insulin. After his A1C shot up to 9. 6;percent, he devised a system. He uses phone alerts to remind him to
take his meds, and puts a week’s worth of pills in a plastic organizer.
Managing diabetes and Alzheimer’s
disease can be tough, particularly as the
dementia progresses, but one good thing
to know is that Alzheimer’s medications
do not typically interfere with glucose
management or diabetes medications,
says Luca Giliberto, MD, PhD, assistant
professor of neurology at Northwell Health
in Manhasset, New York. But medication
side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and
diarrhea may require that your doctor
adjust your insulin dose or other diabetes
drugs, he says. Also of note: A class of
Alzheimer’s drug called cholinesterase
inhibitors may decrease your heart rate,
masking symptoms of hypoglycemia.
In the early stages of dementia, you
may be able to set up a system, like Van
Buren has, for remembering to take your
diabetes meds. “This works until a certain
point,” Giliberto says.
“Eventually you will need
somebody from the family
to be there to administer
the medications, or you will
need a health aide to care
for the person.”
Van Buren, meanwhile, is
managing well. He’s lost 25
pounds by switching to a
eating plan, and he’s training
for a marathon. He also has
his diabetes well managed.
“I’m a lot calmer, and I seem
to be able to focus much
better than before,” he says.
5 WAYS TO COPE
When you’re in a dark place, it can be hard to see the light. Alicia McAuli;e-
Fogarty, PhD, CPsychol, has a few ideas to get you started:
help you to
the real world
or a therapist to
help you cope.