Alzheimer's Disease

The drastic lifestyle changes during Alzheimer's

Overview

Alzheimer's is a neurological disorder that is caused by the malfunction and death of brain cells. This causes difficulties such as memory loss, confusion, inability to complete everyday tasks, drastic mood changes and more. Millions of people aged 85 and older are diagnosed with this disease, and the percentage increases significantly every year. It is expected to reach 5.3 million Americans by 2015 and by 2050, to almost triple to 13.8 million people.

Causes

Alzheimer's is mainly caused by brain cell death that is progressive over a period of time. The developing of this disease results in damage to the nerve cells named neurons. Since the neurons cannot function properly, signals within the brain do not reach them. Alzheimer's is also caused by plaque build up. The plaques are groups of proteins called beta-amyloid that pile up between nerve cells. This also blocks signaling, triggers inflammation, and sends messages to destroy cells. With brain signals being blocked it leads to changes in behavior, mood, memory, and more. The plaque's begin in the hippocampus, where short term memory is held, causing short term memory to be severely affected.

Risk Factors Of Alzheimer's

  • Age - Many people over 85 years old develop this disease and other neuro diseases
  • Gender - Females are at a greater risk for Dementia or Alzheimer's than males
  • Certain Genes - the gene "APOE" or also known as apolipoprotein E, is linked and associated with getting Alzheimers
  • High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Family History- there is a higher risk if there is Alzheimer's in the family
  • Lower Education Level- not as much brain activity
  • Race- African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk because they are shown to have more medical problems

Symptoms

There are several different signs and symptoms during the process of Alzheimers. These can be prevalent at any stage of the progression of Alzheimers.


  • Inability to understand and remember new information
  • Forgetfulness
  • Repeating statements and questions
  • Feeling lost in conversation, where they are, etc
  • Worsening decision-making capability
  • Poor comprehension of actions around them
  • Changes in mood, behavior, personality
  • Cannot recognize faces, objects and places
  • Problems with speech, reading and writing
  • Insomnia and Sleep problems

Treatment

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but it is common to use medication to help lesson the symptoms of the disease. Some of these medications are:

  • Donepezil
  • Alantamine
  • Rivastigmine
  • Tacrine
The drugs prescribed are meant to improve mental function. Aiding mental function can show development of better attention, memory, interaction, and more.

Where To Find Caregivers

There are different companies that offer assistance to patients with Alzheimer's. Locally, the Community Caregivers in Albany have many opportunities to help those in need.
What is Alzheimer's disease? - Ivan Seah Yu Jun

Vocab

Neurodegenerative disease- an umbrella term for a range of conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. They are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and /or death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement (called ataxias), or mental functioning (called dementias).


Beta-Amyloid- an amyloid that is derived from a larger precursor protein and is the primary component of plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease


Mild Cognitive Impairment- an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of Alzheimer's. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.