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Diabetes and Depression May Combine to Increase Dementia Risk

Many nursing home residents have dementia. The cognitive mental deterioration is essentially known as the most common indicator of old age, but many fail to grasp the true problems that it causes for all sufferers and their families. Residents with dementia find their worlds turned upside down, and every day is a struggle. Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have often discussed on these pages how many facilities do a very poor job of working to maximize the quality of life of these residents. That is on top of the now well-publicized issues associated with antipsychotic use to control these residents which leads to an increased risk of death.

Interestingly, a new study published in Medline Plus last week has found that there is a connection between developing dementia and having diabetes combined with depression. The study specifically found a marked increase in dementia risk for those with type 2 diabetes who struggle with depression. These individuals are roughly two times as likely to develop the mental condition compared with those who also have diabetes but no depression. Those involved in the study with the increased risk generally developed dementia symptoms within three to five years after being diagnosed with depression.

The fact that depression plays a role is in dementia development is a somewhat novel idea, but researchers have long known that diabetes itself plays a role in dementia. One expert involved in this latest study explained that diabetes also likely doubles the risk of dementia. Those with depression therefore face an increased risk on top of their already high susceptibilities. This combination is worrisome considering that a particularly high amount of diabetes patients are also suffering from depression. Much research suggest that as many as twenty percent of diabetics are depressed.

This latest research was published this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry. In the article the authors note that dementia and diabetes are both some of the most persistent and widespread problems facing American senior citizens. They also lament that awareness of all of these factors is vital, because they interact with one another. Having diabetes increases the risk of becoming depressed and becoming depressed increases the likelihood of developing diabetes.

These findings make it even more important for all local facilities to work hard to improve the quality of life for all residents in the home. Illinois nursing home lawyers know that far too often the actual day to day happiness levels of these individuals is forgotten. However, if depression is now linked to dementia development, it becomes increasingly important for homes to take reasonable steps to ensure their residents have the opportunity to experience life as fully as possible, pursue their passions, and otherwise keep their mind active. Failing to consider the quality of life of residents is a subtle, but persistent, form of nursing home neglect that cannot afford to be ignored. The study’s authors noted that the vast majority of factors that lead to depression can be modified. These include eating a poor diet, maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and similar characteristics.

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