Alzheimer’s disease – The Silent Killer “Who are you? ” “Do I know you? ” Alzheimer’s disease is a very traumatic and disheartening disease that can affect loved ones in our families and relationships. I will be discussing the causes and prevention of this disease even though scientific facts and research are still being tested for validity. Alzheimer’s disease was first diagnosed to be a medical condition back in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Dr. Alzheimer identified this mental illness after witnessing the mental decaying mind of a woman who experienced memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia that usually targets people over the age of 60. Dementia affects cognitive functioning such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such a degree it affects the person’s everyday life. Not only does it affect those areas, but it also affects behavior, mood, and emotions. When the brain is examined on a person who had Alzheimer’s disease it will show abnormal clumps, tangled bundles of fibers, and loss of connections between nerve cells.
When there are more clumps and tangles in the brain or roadblocks as I would describe them, it is hard for the highways of the brain to communicate with each other and in turn causes these neurons to die. As these neurons die, the areas where they are located in the brain have shrunk drastically and the damage is usually pretty extensive. This leads to death undoubtedly since it affects critical areas of the brain. Alzheimer’s has three stages of progression – early, middle, and late – before reaching the final end of life stage.
Identifying the shift from one stage to another can be quite tricky, but here is a breakdown of how scientists categorize the stages at the present time. Early stages of Alzheimer’s exhibits signs of memory loss and changes in cognitive abilities like getting lost, repeating questions, and small mood and personality changes. Moderate stages exhibit more memory loss, confusions increases, and more than likely family and friends have started to take notice at this point. The person may not be able to learn new things, complete tasks that involve several steps, or handle new situations.
It is also mentioned that they might experience hallucinations, have delusions, experience paranoia, and may behave impulsively. Lastly, when people have been identified as having severe Alzheimer’s they more than likely will not be able to communicate are usually dependent on others for their care. In this final stage, usually the person is bedridden as their body continues to shut down. The likely causes of Alzheimer’s includes genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. With the genetic factor it is believed that every person has a mutation in one of three genes that they received from a parent.
It is believed that this gene may cause the early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It is also believed that the gene APOE causes late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This particular gene is said to have several variances. One of the variances has been directly linked to increasing the Alzheimer’s disease factor, APOE ? 4. This gene is a definite contributing factor to 40% of people who develop Alzheimer’s, but not in all instances of people who do carry it. When considering lifestyle factors a well balanced diet, plenty of physical activity, social interactions, and mentally stimulating activities are said to help people stay mindfully healthy.
These activities help the cognitive functions of the brain. When a person becomes more stagnant the old saying “Use it before you lose it” kind of sets the tone here. Having Down syndrome can also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s as well as diabetes. Diabetes is linked to Alzheimer’s due to the fact they have both been linked to cardiovascular diseases. They both exhibit utilization of glucose in the brains. These two diagnoses are so much alike that it is hard to tell an Alzheimer’s brain from a diabetic’s brain.
The manufacturing of insulin in the brain is condensed and the nerve cells are less sensitive. Diabetic drugs are now being tested to see if they could possibly help out Alzheimer patients. Another factor I found very interesting was that people with less than 6 years of some type of higher education appear to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. From these studies, it was assumed that the brain stimulation students receive actually provides some type of protective barrier for the brain therefore not allowing of the onset of the deterioration of the mind.
Now that’s a good slogan for college and higher education if you ask me. Scientists have actually come up with some preventative measures against Alzheimer’s and the onset of this horrendous disease. Physical activity, brain stimulation (such as puzzles, games, regularly reading, watching television, and any other type of social activity), nutritious diet, and also there is an ongoing search for a vaccine. I saw where in Europe they actually treat their age-related dementia patients with gingko biloba.
Gingko biloba is thought to preserve a person’s memory and stave off dementia. I like hearing alternatives like this becomes nowadays it just seems “big pharm” is always trying to find a way to sell another prescription medication to make a buck. It seems like just staying active, living healthy, and constantly learning is what the scientists have really concluded when summarizing their viewpoints of what they think will hinder this disease even though no one is really for sure and everything is still being tested.
Even though a direct statement of what not to do is available I think these are some pretty good starting out points. Alzheimer’s seems to be a really horrific disease that I personally would never want to go through with any one of my family members. I have known people that have had to actually go through this and there is really nothing you can do for that person unless you quit your job and watch them 24/7 all the time.
Professionals I think are a definite must have even though it kind of seems selfish at the time, but really what can you or I do since we really aren’t experienced with a disease like this. Hopefully, they can find a cure for this disease and fast, because as of right now there really is no hope for anyone that has any one close to them that has developed this disease unfortunately. Works Cited http://www. nia. nih. gov http://www. webmd. com/alzheimers/tc/alzheimers-disease-topic-overview http://www. alzheimer. ca