Dorothy (Sam) Williams

Dorothy (Sam) Williams

Connecting diabetes and dementia

Diabetic association meeting includes education on disease

Diabetes and dementia have a connection, and what we can do to delay it will be on the table during a diabetes education event in Sidney.

“I am clarifying the ties between dementia and diabetes,” said Dr. Dorothy (Sam) Williams, of her speaking engagement on May 14 at the Mary Winspear Centre.

Williams is vice-chief of Geriatric Medicine for the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), chief of staff for the VIHA South Island region, and acting chief of staff for Vancouver Island. She is a full-time clinician in geriatrics, a clinical instructor with the Department of Internal Medicine at UBC, a past president of the Medical Staff Association for South Island, and a member of the provincial Physician Health Program’s “Physicians Advocating Wellness” groups.

She’ll speak on Brain Function and Diabetes … What is the connection? during the Canadian Diabetic Association Vancouver Island regional annual meeting.

“Given that those high prevalence rates for both diabetes and dementia it really is increasing the awareness in the research world that this association has to be looked at and has enormous public impact,” she said. “We know that if you have diabetes you are more likely to develop a dementia. What we don’t yet know is if you have diabetes and you’re treated, will that decrease your chance of dementia?”

It’s unknown if treatment for diabetes has an ongoing effect on dementia

“That’s where the research world is now turning to,” she explained. In 25 years of research into dementia there’s nothing to treat the illness; treatments are symptomatic only, Williams noted.

“If treating diabetes can slow down the dementing process that would be the first time that has ever been shown.”

She feels the world is paying attention because of the pandemic in diabetes primarily caused by change in diet and obesity.

“At the end of the day it’s everybody that needs to hear this,” she said. The common sense treatments suggested, losing weight, eating healthier and changing lifestyle are still the best options. “We keep coming back full circle. At the very base of it is lifestyle modification.”

Williams speaks during the diabetes education event and annual general meeting Saturday, May 14 at 8:45 a.m.

For more information on changing lifestyles visit the Canadian Diabetes Association web site at