Bipolar & Dementia

I fear dementia. Both of my parents have dementia and live in a memory care community. They love one another and seem happy where they are now, but it took a while to make that happen. They wanted to maintain their independence. Understandable.
I fear dementia. Though I hope by avoiding alcohol and taking my bipolar medications, I can stave it off. (Alcohol is a neurotoxin, and I have a family history of alcoholism.)
Still, I fear a downward spiral. That fear I want to overcome. Face it. Stand up to bipolar disorder and dementia. Take care of my brain.
Even if my bipolar disorder progresses, even if I get dementia, I can still love and be loved, just as my parents still love and are loved.

Bipolar Disorder & Dementia Research

Analyzing six studies, researchers concluded  in “History of Bipolar Disorder and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis“:

History of BD [bipolar disorder] is associated with significantly higher risk of dementia in older adults. Future studies are necessary to evaluate the potential mediators of this association and to evaluate interventions that may reduce the risk of dementia in this population.

Diniz BS, Teixeira AL, Cao F, Gildengers A, Soares JC, Butters MA, Reynolds CF 3rd
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;25(4):357-362. DOI:


56 responses to “Bipolar & Dementia”

  1. Omg this is so well written. I also aspire to spread awareness of neurological diseases. Do also check out my first post and follow me as well. Appreciate it ❤️

  2. Scary, isn’t it?

  3. This is always in the back of my mind. I just wrote a similar entry. People just don’t understand.

  4. I know that fear. So sorry that your mother in law had early onset dementia.

  5. This is so relevant to me and people that i know. My husband’s mom had early onset dementia and i see his sisters consumed by fear of the same fate.

  6. Ask your doctor about your meds’ side effects. My body has adjusted (or I’ve adjusted my expectations). Don’t go off meds. Safer to stay on. They protect your brain from damage of episodes. More episodes, more damage.

  7. I’m glad I read this blog, I have been on meds since 2006 for bipolar and my memory is shot, I find it hard to remember how to spell the simplest words and my short term memory is really bad. Getting to where I can’t keep up with conversations sometimes cause I forget what we are talking about. I will look more into this now that I know. Thank you!

  8. Don’t. Just let your body adjust to Dope-a-Max. Mood stabilizers protect our brains from permanent damage, even as they seem to cause it. My brain has adjusted to Depakote over the years.

  9. Yikes. I fear dementia too!!

  10. My father’s undoing was heavy drinking. Destroyed his memory.

  11. Thanks Kitt for connecting the dots. I read (twice and even took summary notes) John Arden’s book “The Brain Bible” which is on how to live now to prevent dementia. And it could be written for anyone with Bipolar and trying to stay stable chemically. A bit scientific at times, but digestible and impactful. Highly recommended if you are looking for a practical course on prevention. (ouch, not that this has stopped me drinking though).

  12. By the way, when I was 30, recovering from a week of mania, I couldn’t even read a sentence. Couldn’t hold together the letters of a word. Couldn’t piece together the words in a sentence. I was highly educated. I still sounded intelligent, but I couldn’t read because my brain was recovering from an episode. That was temporary, episodic, and due to improper medication (remember, medication is trial and error, and we can still experience symptoms even if well-medicated). I’ve gone on to read and write.

  13. Talk to your psychiatrist about your inability to memorize the script. To some extent, it could be an episodic symptom. To some extent, medication side effect. Medications, by and large, protect our brains from the devastating impact of acute episodes of mania or depression, which can damage the brain structurally. Take care of your brain. My memory has been better at certain times. Worse, at other times. Better for us not to live in fear, but to live as best we can with our illness, taking care of our bodies and brains as best as we can.

  14. This scares me to death as well. I’m only 37 and I’ve had problems with my memory for a few years now. I even had to leave a job because I couldn’t memorize a required script.

  15. Hope her medical advice helps. Both symptoms and medications can affect your memory short-term. The symptoms, for me, are episodic. Medication side effects vary, and my body and brain adjusted to medication side effects over time. Good brain health (proper medication) protects your brain from long-term damage of untreated mental illness.

  16. You can follow up however you want. Your blog. Your choice. No need to always bare your soul.

  17. Thanks for the call out, Dyane!

  18. I agree with Katie Dale of’s comment: “what does worrying about it do to my life now, only to stress myself out and waste energy over worrying about it.” Of course, when our parents exhibit symptoms, that affects us. I wish you the best. has great resources.

  19. My memory sucks a lot. I’m too young to have bad memory. I’ll have to ask her when I see her again.

  20. Thanks Kitt. Now I simply have to work out how to follow up that very personal post!

  21. […] Yesterday evening I received a disturbing email from a relative. It was unsettling because its content indicated that the relative has some signs of Alzheimer’s. (Kitt, I plan on reading your Bipolar and Dementia blog post today!) […]

  22. Thank you. Wish you well as you mourn the loss of your mother. Your post Goodbye Piper is a moving tribute to your mother. You write beautifully.

  23. More research is necessary. I believe that taking medication prevents long-term damage, for severe episodes of bipolar result in brain damage and progression of the illness. To what extent the illness itself or medications we take can cause some memory loss, I am no expert. Best to ask your psychiatrist. I have noticed, though, that my memory is better at times, and worse at times.

  24. I’m scared my mom has it. I’m scared I’ll get it. I’m actually glad my father is gone so I don’t have to see him go through such agony.
    Linked to this post in my blog (as I often do) because you write some of the tip-top best posts around!
    Love you, Special K,

  25. Thanks for sharing the research and your story.
    Recently wrote about my Mother’s dementia and death, and was amazed at the number of comments from people who have been touched by this painful decline.
    Wish you well in your wellness.

  26. I don’t like that. Why do we get this way?

  27. Thanks for sharing!

  28. They are doing well and are happy. Thank you.

  29. Glad to hear that your friend is doing well and living close to his son. Quality care and love make a huge difference.

  30. Thanks for sharing, Bob.

  31. Send you my belated condolences, Bob.

  32. Hope your parents are doing well as ecpected and both are healthy and happy. M

  33. Agree with Katie Dale’s comment and Kitt’s responses.
    Looked after a WWII Alzheimer veteran for one day a week for the last 2.5 years and enjoyed spending a day with him. The last year it was necessary he be in an assisted living facility for he lost his ability to walk around and needed a wheelchair. He qualified for nursing care late June and moved to a VA facility near his son and family and turned 93 on 1 July. Believe his illness was sporadic rather than genetic for both his parents lived into their nineties. He switched to Namenda the Spring of 2015 and it helped slow the brain cellular destruction down.
    Enjoyed spending those few days with him for he just seemed happy about the simple things. He still has some cognition from his memory tests and is still able to play solitaire. Glad he will be getting better quality care at his new location. Thanks for posting, Kitt.

  34. Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Kitt writes about a fear.

  35. My Dad had Dementia and I lived with him for his final seven years until he couldn’t be safe at home any longer. The local nursing home at the hospital gave good care for the few months he was there. He was physically in rapid decline as well as cognitively, and died in his sleep at age 98 near the end of 2013. Yes, it is scary, especially having seen it so up close day by day.

  36. Thanks! So sorry you are in early stages of dementia. We are learning more about the connections and interactions of different illnesses and medications. I hope for scientific breakthroughs that will improve our health and the health of our next generation.

  37. We are just learning about the connection, chicken or egg, meds or condition. Katie Dale’s recommendation to not fear the future is excellent.

  38. Thank you for your positive feedback. I agree with you. Honestly, I vent negative emotions and fear here more than positive, at times. You are right that fearing the future is a waste of time and energy. Better to pray, be in the present, and face the future as it comes.

  39. Huge adjustment for them. I get it.

  40. Thanks Kitt
    I also have a high %, losing part of my memory from Lyme Diease makes it harder to dechifer the early wanrings. When my doctor said I has early stage of dementia, was not prepared for that. Doing a great job Kitt. I’m going to reblog if button is active. 🙂

  41. I have the same fear. I am so forgetful and I wonder if it is caused by the bipolar or the meds.

  42. I worked in an Assisted Living community with a Memory Care Unit attached to it for 3 years and I understand the effects and results of dementia. While it is a scary thing, and a real struggle, especially for those loved ones of the one with it, I would say, there’s not a good enough reason (in my mind) to fear it. Maybe there’s a connection, a correlation to bipolar, but even so, what does worrying about it do to my life now, only to stress myself out and waste energy over worrying about it. The chances you may have it some day may be greater than average because of your genetics, but even if you do get it, you may end up not noticing or realizing its effects on you. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or harsh, but then again you may never get it. Also, healthcare and technology, science and medicine, they’re all improving in these areas. By then, who knows, there may be a cure, or at least a supplemental treatment that dramatically reduces the symptoms. In any case, it’s better for your health just not to worry. ? Stay brave!

  43. That’s so scary, Kitt! I had no idea about the link between bipolar disorder and dementia! Yikes! I, too, fear that, and worry about my own parents. I’m so glad your parents are currently happy, but I’m sorry it took so much effort to get them there!

  44. Glad that that has worked in improving your health.

  45. Thank you. It’s liberating when you let go of those feelings.

  46. For what it is worth? Supposedly, I cup of warm water with I Tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar … raw unfiltered with I tsp of honey. Sipped slowly each morning helps restore the body’s balance. I have been doing so, for the last 9 months and my blood sugars have returned to normal levels. … Hooray! I saw it as a recommended for a guard against dementia, also? Hoping that helps? Look into it, please? For it may be true. It warns against taking high blood pressure meds as well. Yet, so far my blood pressure is returning to more normal levels also. I have also seen the remedy, using lemon juice. It must be the acidic virtue, combined with honey. Again, I use unpasteurized sort. Cheers Jamie

  47. Thank you Kitt. And I meant to say ‘twentieth century can be healed’ above. My dad passed away many years ago, and for me there was a very strong positive side to it. It made me realise that my hate for my dad was only residing in my heart. A friend told me soon afterwards that I was still trying to dig my father’s grave long after he had gone…and I was the only one still holding on to those feelings.
    The long road to forgiving him and myself then began…finally. It taught me many, many things, as the love beneath it always does 😀
    May your journey show you that love too <3

  48. So sorry that you and your mother suffered those profound losses.

  49. My dad died from Alzheimer’s Kitt, and a crueler death I cannot imagine. I watched my mom lose him twice…once when he no longer recognised her, and the second when he actually passed away.
    None of these conditions are very nice, as you well know. I hope that with more study that this pain of the twentieth can be healed <3

  50. […] Source: Bipolar & Dementia […]

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