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Korsakoff Syndrome

A chronic memory disorder caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1) and is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse. Korsakoff syndrome causes problems learning new information, an inability to remember recent events and long term memory gaps. These memory problems can be severe, yet individuals living with Korsakoff Syndrome can carry out a coherent conversation, yet moments later not recall it or the person it was shared with. Those living with the condition may also make up information they cannot remember (confabulation). This is not lying, as they may believe their made up explanation. There are few current long term studies of individuals living with Korsakoff Syndrome, but data suggests that around 25% will eventually recover, around 50% improve without recovering completely and 25% will remain unchanged.

Living with Korsakoff Syndrome brings a number of challenges. It is often the case that people with the condition have experienced a number of losses and difficulties with relationships as a result of their alcohol misuse. Having little or no recollection of their earlier life and living in a reality that differs from those around them often challenges family members. At Marbrook we understand these challenges and work to support families to establish, renew and maintain relationships. Engaging the individual in activities and providing the nutrition required to optimise their physical and mental well being will help the individual live their life in a safe and supportive way which is meaningful and sociable, supporting as much choice as possible.

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