Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes: What’s the connection?



Research has shown that the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is related to various processes in diabetes. This article summarizes what is currently known about the diabetes-Alzheimer’s connection and how this may pave the way for new treatments for the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), sometimes also called “late-onset dementia,” is a neurological disorder that accounts for more than half of all diagnosed cases of dementia. Its incidence is increasing, and it is estimated that by 2025, over 7 million Americans will be affected.

The main symptoms of AD are short-term memory loss and cognitive impairment, which can affect many vital functions, including:

  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Motor control
  • Numerous behavioral aspects

Typically, the disease is progressive, with escalating symptoms that eventually interfere significantly with typical daily life tasks.

On the molecular level, AD is primarily caused by the accumulation of abnormally processed proteins (in particular, amyloid beta) in the brain. The abnormal proteins form aggregates, referred to as plaques, which can be visualized with various brain imagining techniques. These abnormalities can “trigger oxidative stress, microvascular dysfunction, and blood–brain barrier (BBB) disruption, and can induce the activation of an inflammatory response within the brain, ultimately resulting in neuronal damage and consequent neurodegeneration.”

Connections to Diabetes

The pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s appears to be related to certain processes that occur in diabetes. In fact, the….

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Raising Awareness of Dementia in Kenya

Raising Awareness of Dementia in Kenya

Raising Awareness of Dementia in Kenya

Raising Awareness of Dementia in Kenya

Most health care plans in Kenya have excluded older persons, especially those living with dementia, which makes it more difficult to advocate for their health since it has not been made a priority compared to other diseases that the government supports. Dementia is usually not viewed as a disease but more as a normal part of ageing.

Wambui Karanja, WYLD lead for the African Region, shares some of the key activations during World Alzheimer’s Month 2018, and efforts in raising awareness of dementia in Kenya

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Organization Kenya (ADOK1) is a non-governmental organization which was recently founded to support people with dementia and their caregivers and to create awareness on dementia in Kenya. The work of ADOK is crucial as we see a rise of neurodegenerative disorders here in Kenya.

While speaking on World Alzheimer’s day in Nairobi, Dr Juzar Hooker, a consultant neurologist at the Agha Khan University Hospital, noted that he has seen the number of cases of dementia increase over the past 15 years. As the number of older people grows due to an increased life expectancy in Africa, more cases of dementia are estimated to arise.

ADOK’s first priority is creating awareness on dementia in the country. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International report on Dementia in sub-Saharan Africa2, there is often no equivalent term for dementia in local languages and a general lack of awareness in local communities. When we held awareness campaigns on dementia, we found that people lacked the term to describe dementia. However, they could understand what we were describing and knew someone living with dementia-like symptoms in the community.

For the first time, ADOK marked World Alzheimer’s month last September and took various steps to create awareness despite shortage of resources. Members and volunteers of the organization came together to engage in various initiatives. The events included visits to different churches to create awareness on Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. In addition to the five churches we visited, we went to an old people’s home where we donated food items and toiletries and had a fun day with them. We found it more cost-effective to engage already organized groups and institutions on awareness creation compared to organizing independent events.

ADOK appeared on five local national television stations – four of which are English broadcasting stations and one broadcasting in Kikuyu, a local language widely spoken in Kenya. It was the very first time a feature on dementia was done in a local language. The feature in Kikuyu was a huge success as compared to those in English. It gained over 17,000 views on YouTube, while the others received less than 1000 views each. We also realized that we had more feedback on awareness created in local languages than during sessions we conducted in English. This shows the great need for health education in local languages which we tended to ignore before, and with which we need to engage more with.

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Dementia: What it is and how to support a family member with dementia

Dementia is a general term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills that is severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. It is estimated that 47 million people live with dementia globally and 63% of these live in low and middle-income countries. The number of people with dementia is set to rise to 75 million by the year 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050, with much of the increase in developing countries.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. But there are many other conditions that can cause dementia symptoms, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia.” This reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging.

People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments, or travelling out of their neighbourhood.
Dementia is an overwhelming experience not only for the people who have it, but also for their caregivers and families. There is a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia in most countries, resulting in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care, which impacts caregivers, families, and societies physically, psychologically, and economically.

This script illustrates the behaviour shown by people who have a dementia diagnosis, and addresses the care required from family and caregivers.

You could use this script as inspiration to produce a similar program on dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease on your station. Or you might choose to present it as part of your regular health program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.


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Alzheimer’s robbed us of our beautiful mum


Our mother experienced a sudden memory loss sometime in 2011. It all started when some women in a group where she was the treasurer told us that she wasn’t keen at her job in the group. They also accused her of receiving money from other members and denying she had taken it. After a few such incidences, they reached out to us and this was the beginning of our journey with Alzheimer’s.Before her friends reached out, she could complain of losing something only to find it safely kept in her bedroom.

We always laughed it off but little did we know it was a health condition that needed medical attention. Our father would joke whenever this happened and could tease us to get her a psychiatrist. But we all got concerned when she started acting insecure and hiding household items such as sugar, flour and even utensils in the garden. We would search for these things only to find them rotting in the bushes many days later.

Then she started mixing up our names. Sometimes, she would veer off from a topic and talk about unrelated things. She often talked about her childhood experiences and would pester us trying to find her way to a primary school she had attended. She said she wanted to go to school. And she was always restless, trying to do one thing and abandoning it to do something else.

In our Kamba community, my mother’s condition was majorly linked to witchcraft. So the first thing we thought of was taking her to a traditional healer. In 2012, we visited many different traditional healers whose intervention didn’t help. Instead, her condition only got worse.

She started getting withdrawn and would look the other way when she was talked to. It was at this point that we took her to St Francis Community Hospital in Kasarani where tests revealed that she had depression.She was put on medication and discharged on instruction that we monitor her condition for two weeks. Nothing changed. Two weeks later, she underwent organ tests that revealed she was okay. I searched on Google the name of the medicines that doctors gave us and found out that they treated depression, Alzheimer’s and other mental problems.

I ruled out depression and linked all the symptoms my mother portrayed to Alzheimer’s disease.We went to Kijabe Hospital in 2014 to seek a different opinion. Here, a brain scan revealed that our mother was okay. It was frustrating not getting to the bottom of what she was suffering from. The doctors warned us that should the drugs they gave our mother fail to work, then it was possible that she was experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s. They explained that the condition couldn’t be treated but only gets worse with time. That it could only be managed. We were shocked at the doctors’ pronouncement but somehow, we are coming to terms with the fact that people age differently.