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Korsakoff’s Syndrome / ARBD

The numerous names associated with ARBD can at times cause confusion:

  •  žKorsakoffs syndrome
  • ž Korsakoff psychosis
  • ž Alcoholic encephalopathy
  • ž Wernicke’s disease
  • ž Wernicke encephalopathy
  • ž wet brain
  • ž alcohol dementia
  • ž Alcoholic amnesia

ARBD may be seen as a spectrum of disorders that merging into each other and often overlap. The damage a person sustains can range from mild to very severe and the level of damage sustained will dictate where on the spectrum their needs fall.

Often people with an ARBD diagnosis who require residential / nursing care are placed in an elderly dementia unit; however the needs of people with ARBD may be more akin to people with acquired brain injury than those with dementia.

The age of diagnosis is often young with men being diagnosed from the average age of 45 years and women being diagnosed from 35 years, it is important to remember however that there are people being diagnosed at a much younger age than this.

It is important to remember that ARBD is non-progressive if abstinence is maintained.

So what do all these names mean?

It is probably easier to think of ARBD as the umbrella name for any brain damage caused by alcohol and then look at specific diagnosis:

Wernicke encephalopathy  (Otherwise known as wet brain/ Alcoholic encephalopathy/ Wernicke’s  Disease)

Korsakoffs syndrome (Otherwise known as alcohol dementia/ Alcoholic amnesia/ Korsakoff’s Psychosis)

What causes ARBD?

ARBD is often a consequence of long-term alcohol misuse however it is believed that the culture of binge drinking will result in a major increase in the diagnosis of ARBD.

Alcohol misuse can lead to poor absorption and storage of vitamins in particular Thiamine (Vitamin B1). Many heavy drinkers have poor eating habits. Their nutrition is inadequate, and does not contain essential vitamins along with this alcohol can inflame the stomach lining and impede the body’s ability to absorb the key vitamins it receives.

What is thiamine?

žThiamine is also known as Vitamin B1

žIt is primarily involved in energy production in the body, it also affects the way in which the nervous system functions

žThiamine is found in foods such as pasta, whole grains, lean meats, fish, fortified cereals, peas, dried beans and soya beans.

What do we do to care for someone with ARBD?

We provide care in a small scale domestic environment that facilitates quality on-going care for those with complex and long-term care needs.

We assist people with ARBD to maximise their potential and improve their quality of living by:

Providing flexible, individualised care packages,

Providing strategies for improving memory

Pproviding coping strategies for:

  • challenging behaviour
  • anger management
  • sleeping problems
  • communication skills
  • planning for change
  • Meeting nutritional needs
  • Meeting personal care
  • Meeting domestic skills needs – shopping, cleaning, laundry, preparation of meals

As abstinence is imperative we promotion of participation in alcohol free socialising activities: such as card and board games, walking groups, art and crafts, discussion groups, ten pin bowling, fishing, dancing, bingo, gardening and golf, as well as various social outings to the seaside, shopping centres, tourist attractions e.g. safari parks and museums, swimming and theatre. We also offer a holiday each year to the coast.

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