Mission statement

Our main aim is to promote an understanding of the dangers of drinking excess alcohol, in particular, Wernicke's Korsakoff's Syndrome.
We are not anti-alcohol, we just want people to be aware of the possible consequesnces of drinking to excess.
We also want to promote the results of this illness with medical and social care professionals so that people with this illness can be better understood and that information upon which decisions are based are valid.

A general view

For anyone who has worked in, or been associated with, a care home for the elderly they will know that an important element of care comes from the relatives. This is not the case with people who are in care because they have been affected by alcohol. Often, for reasons which we can only speculate, contact with relatives has been lost.

It is a fact of modern life that if you fall over in public the first few people who see you will call 999 on their mobiles. For a person who is affected by alcohol a hospital stay may not be welcome as it deprives them of access to alcohol. They may be confused, not know where they are, not be able to explain what has happened to them or where they have come from - and on top of that, they don't care. Once dried out, they face an uncertain future. Without access to relatives or support workers the medical profession have to make judgements on scant information. Often, what a person tells the medical profession is wrong and therefore, misleading.

Confabulation

The text books explain confabulation as 'filling in the gaps in memory.' In practice, confabulation can be so powerful that unless there is someone, perhaps a relative who can confirm or deny an event, the person will be believed, and why not. That's how we are trained to interact with each other. The suggestion of an alcohol-related illness should ring alarm bells that the person may, because of memory loss, be 'economical with the truth.'


Repetition

For an hour, I sat in a room with a lady and her brother. She was looking for a care home who would admit him. She had been telling me that her brother came over to her house every Sunday for lunch and spent the day with her family. After an hour I asked her when she had noticed that his conversation was repetitive. She told me that she hadn't noticed any repetition but she was aware that he had been diagnosed with Korsakoff's. In that hour her brother had spoken one sentence, and he had said exactly the same sentence five times. The sister had not noticed.
Repetition is common and often it is on a 'loop.' If the loop last seconds it is easily recognised but if the loop is several hours it is more difficult to recognise.
In these cases it would not be recognised in a ten minute conversation if a person should end up in A & E..