Alzheimer's Disease

Anna Wagoner - A3

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease is an illness that effects the memory of its victim. It starts in the hippocampus of the brain and a plaque forms between two nerve cells, interrupting the signals that go between the two. As more plaque forms, less nerve endings are able to talk to each other and eventually die out. After that the plaque forms inside nerve endings of the brain, suffocating them as well. After all of this, which takes some time, the hippocampus is rendered useless and the memory loss begins. The disease then moves to other parts of the brain going through the same process until instead of just memory being taken, motor skills are forgotten also.

Symptoms

  • Memory loss that disturbs every day life.

    • YES it is okay to forget where you parked the car.

    • NO it is not okay to forget what your car looks like.

  • Difficulty completing a familiar task

    • YES it is okay to need help recording a TV show

    • NO it is not okay needing help to play a favorite game.

  • Confusion about time or place

    • YES it is okay to forget the day, if it is remembered later.

    • NO it is not okay to constantly need help remembering what day it is.

  • Problems speaking.

    • YES it is okay to occasionally have problem finding a word

    • NO it is not okay to forget the name of a familiar item or friend/family member.

  • Decreased or poor judgment

    • YES it is okay to make a bad decision in a outfit choice.

    • NO it is not okay to not wear any clothes at all

  • Withdraw from work or social activities

    • YES it is okay to sometimes not want to go to work or be around family

    • NO it is not okay to start removing yourself from things that you used to enjoy greatly.


Who is Affected by Alzheimer's?

  • More than 5 million American’s are living with Alzheimer’s.

  • Every 67 seconds, someone in the USA develops Alzheimer’s.

  • 1 in 3 senior citizens will die from Alzheimer’s.

  • More women are affected by Alzheimer’s than men.

    • In her 60’s women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

      • Breast Cancer is a 1 in 11 chance.

    • Almost 2/3rds of Alzheimer’ patients are women.

    • 60% of Alzheimers caregivers are women.

    • There are 2.5 times more women given on duty 24 hour care for alzheimers patients than men.

    • Nearly 19% of women had to quit their jobs to be caregivers for someone with Alzheimer's.

    • Women are more likely to contract Alzheimer’s than men.

  • North Carolina in 2014 had 150,000 people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Personal Account

My grandmother was diagnosed with Dementia in late 2012. The first thing that we noticed was changing was that she would start going to bed at 5 and wake up at 4 am. She also started to believe that there were "women" sleeping in the back bed room where I used to sleep when I stayed with her. For almost a year I stayed with my grandmother when my grandfather would go stay with his mother who was 97 at the time on Sunday nights. I stopped staying there when one night my grandmother got up at 3 am and went down to the basement and started working out which woke me up and frightened me because I did not know what she was doing. During all of this however she knew everyone's name and was acting relatively normal. In 2013 though, she no longer remembered my three cousins, Payton, Addison, and Macie, or my aunt Valerie. She forgot who my grandfather was and instead of believing there were women staying in the back of the house she started to believe that there were four "men" keeping her prisoner. My grandfather would get very angry at my grandmother which has led to her to not know who he is and she has a strong hatred towards him. She started to forget to brush her teeth or take showers. She would also take clothes out of the washing machine and wear them wet. She hides things around the house such as car keys or money or her purse. She also used to walk out of the house by herself and go to my great aunt Helen's house next door without telling anyone where she went. Finally in 2014, she forgot who my mother was, who my sister was, and then who I was.

Treatment Options

There is no treatment to stop Alzheimer's or a cure for the Disease altogether. However, there are too drugs that help with the symptoms of the disease. These treatments are:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors

    • This medicine helps with the cognitive symptoms and helps boost the cell to cell communication in the brain. This slows the symptoms down and helps keep them “at bay” but does not slow the disease altogether.

  • Memantine (Namenda)

    • Another drug that helps with cell to cell communication and helps slows the symptoms of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. This is used in combination of the inhibitors.

BLoA and CLoA

Biological Levels of Analysis:

  1. Behavior can be Inherited

    1. All though it is unknown how Alzheimer’s in contracted, there is a very rare type of Alzheimer’s known as Early-Onset Alzheimer's which is genetic. It occurs within people of the ages 30-60 and only represents less than 5% of Alzheimer’s patients.

  2. Cognitive, emotions and behaviors are products of the anatomy and physiology of our nervous and endocrine systems.

    1. Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks the nervous system of the brain. This affects all of a person’s cognitive skills, emotions, and behaviors gradually taking all of them away.

Cognitive Levels of Analysis:

  1. Human Beings are Information Processors and Mental Processes Guide Behavior

    1. When a person has Alzheimer’s they are no longer able to process what is going on around them the same way. For example, my grandmother process that they’re are 6 of my grandfather in the house and that she is being held prisoner. Because of Alzheimer's a person’s mental processes is slowed or inhibited and so the way they perceive and think about the world is completely changed.

  2. The Mind Can Be Studied Scientifically

    1. Alzheimer’s disease itself is microscopic and cannot be studied by a CAT scan or any other scanning device while the patient is alive. The only way for scientists to see the disease is after the patient has passed and their brain is studied. Alzheimer’s can only be studied in laboratory experiments on the parts of the brain that are affected after the person with Alzheimer’s has passed.

Citations

Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet


Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer's Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.as


Memory Loss & 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's | Alzheimer's Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp



Alzheimer's & Dementia Risk Factors | Alzheimer's Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_causes_risk_factors.asp