Alcohol related dementia is one of a few lifestyle dementias that should be clear and present dangers to society as the numbers appear to be increasing.
Anyone who has ever consumed alcohol to excess or witnessed it will know that common symptoms include slurring words, exhibiting general motor impairments including stumbling and walking off balance, making poor decisions, become loud, and unable to think clearly.
What is happening when one consumes alcohol to such an extent is that the central nervous system is depressed, causing it to slow its’ responses and reactions.
Chronic long-term alcohol abuse and alcoholism can cause permanent effects on the brain eventually leading to alcohol-related dementia.
Usually the first noticeable symptoms of chronic long-term alcohol abuse are cognitive including memory loss, both short-term and accurate long-term.
Many long time alcoholics “confabulate” their stories when instead of recalling accurate memories because of damage to their brain, the person distorts, mixes up and interprets memories about themselves others and the world around them, in a very convincing manner, totally unaware that the information is false.
Other signs of alcohol related dementia are:
1. Inappropriate behaviour including words and actions
2. garbled speech;
3. trouble with balance;
4. hearing loss;
5. loss of organizational and planning abilities;
6. slowed thinking, reacting and speaking;
7. problems with concentration
8. difficulty in completing tasks
9. trouble doing simple arithmetical problems such as adding, subtracting, dividing
As with all other dementias, alcohol related dementia involves the loss of self-awareness that anything is wrong, both neurologically and behaviourally.
There are systemic physiological effects of long-term alcohol abuse including nerve damage in the arms and legs, liver damage such as cirrhosis, heart damage, and kidney damage.
It has been noted that patients with liver cirrhosis have significant cognitive impairment compared with controls in clinical tests.