Alzheimers disease is described as a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a persons memory and clarity to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate, and carry out daily life. (r.1) Alzheimers is a disturbing disease affecting millions of elderly people. A persons risk for the disease is fifty-percent when they reach the age of eighty-five.(r.1) Scientists have been studying the disease for many years now in hope to find answers to a cure for this depressive disease. The disease is persistently being studied with the hope of cures, and a better understanding of how one person can conquer Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease contains no known single cause. Scientists are patiently and determinedly studying every aspect of the disease in hope to establish a precise cause. Late-onset Alzheimers cause relates to the increasing age of an individual and the family history of the disease. (r.1) Statistics exemplify the discovery of one specific gene which contributes to the increasing rate of late-onset Alzheimers. Persons with rare, familial types of Alzheimers are found connected to hundreds of families linked to a specific gene. (r.1) Those whom inherit the specific gene are almost guaranteed to obtain the Alzheimers disease. The gene also will affect the person by the age of sixty-five, and even as early as their thirties and forties.(r.1) Another popular theory for the cause of the disease other then genetics includes the decreasing of brains cells through either strokes or ageing. Beth Miller, an Alzheimers Association representative stated, Persons may develop a miniature stroke where they may not even notice they are experiencing a stroke, but their brain cell count decreases. Too many of these miniature strokes can cause memory loss and result in Alzheimers.(r.2)
Beth explained that as one ages your brain cells begin to die off, causing permanent damage. She also stressed the fact that scientists have not concluded a specific cause for the Alzheimers disease, and theyre hoping with the development of new technology we may finally determine a single cause. (r.2)
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that gradually destroys their memory, cognitive ability, and ability to fend for themselves.(r.3) Symptoms for Alzheimers disease are long and complex. Many people mistake the symptoms for Alzheimers disease for old age. The first sign is memory loss. The most common signs of Alzheimers are forgetting recently learned information. The second symptom is difficulty performing familiar tasks. People begin to find it difficult to perform and complete everyday tasks that were once easy, such as cooking a meal or participating in a hobby. The next sign is problems with their language. Those with Alzheimers disease forget the simplest of words and begin to substitute words which do not make sense to the common listener. Their writing skills also begin to lack. The fourth sign is disorientation to time and place. Many become lost on their own street. They begin to loose their way and can sometimes become very lost. The fifth sign is poor or decreased judgment. A person with Alzheimers begins to dress without any regard to the weather, or wear abnormal clothing. Next they begin to think abstractly. They may forget to do their taxes, to balance their check books, or other tasks that require a little use of thinking. Then they begin to misplace objects, beginning with little items such as their car keys, but then progressing to forgetting where they parked their car, where they put their jewelry and other important items. Those with the disease contain rapid mood swings and their personalities begin to alter dramatically. The last sign is loss of initiative. Researchers show that they begin to watch television for hours, and sleep more then normal. They begin to loose interest in things they once loved. (r.1)
There are seven main stages of the disease. It begins with no cognitive impairment, then to very mild cognitive decline, to mild cognitive decline, to moderate cognitive decline, to moderately severe cognitive decline, to severe cognitive decline, and finally to very severe cognitive decline. This is the latest stage where they begin to become apart of the disease Dementia. (r.4) The impairments are extreme and the stages can range for a long period of time or for very little. Research describes the symptoms as easy to establish and extremely noticeable once past the first three stages.
The diagnosis for the disease is correct eighty to ninety-percent of the time.(r.5) Scientist have discovered a method to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in the brain through the use of a microscope. The method can be scary and risky to remove brain tissue while a person is alive. Doctors cannot look at the tissue until they do an autopsy of the body, which can only occur after the death of the individual.(r.5) Many doctors declare a person with Alzheimers disease only through the symptoms. Blood tests have been experimented to establish the diagnosis, but mainly the only way to give an accurate declaration of the disease is through an autopsy. (r.5)
Although there is no known cure for Alzheimers disease, there are numbers of medications used to slow down the cognitive deterioration. The goal for the medications are to improve cognitive ability, to think, perceive, judge and recognize.(r.6) Namenda is a popular drug which has the ability to shield the brain from glutamate which contributes to the death of brain cells in people with Alzheimers.(r.6) Four other main drugs used include; Aricept, Exelon, Cognex, and Reminyl. These drugs are semi-successful in postponing the deterioration of the brain cells, but far from relieving the body of the disease. A recent theory suggests that marijuana may help Alzheimers disease. Researchers focused on human brain tissue samples and conducted cannabinoid experiments on rats. Their findings showed thatcannabinoids work both to prevent inflammation and to protect the brain, stated researcher Maria de Ceballos in a news release. The typical features seen in the brain tissue of Alzheimers disease are called plaques. Plaques are protein clumps that are seen outside brain cells, and they have been shown to activate inflammation seen in brain tissue of Alzheimers disease patients. The patients had lost the capacity to experience cannabinoids protective effects, marijuana helped trigger the inflammation. (r.7) Research is still being done to see if marijuana will in fact help decline the rate of Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease progresses through time. Many do not develop severe Alzheimers disease until their late seventies.(r.1) There is no cure to stop the progression of Alzheimers, only a series of pills to delay the severity. Long term effects are complete memory loss. A person can loose complete control over their body, therefore leaving them to rely on the medical help of others to perform any simple task. A person can even forget their own identity. (r.1)
There is no solution to the prevention of Alzheimers. There are possible steps a patient can take in order to post-pone the disease. Possible prevention methods include Estrogen Therapy, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Antioxidants, Cardiovascular exercise, and Continued education. Women who took estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) had a decrease of the disease 40% lower than those who did not (Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center). Studies on rats support the benefit of estrogen on the brain. The estrogen appears to alter the nerve cells and make them more sensitive to the hormone, NGF, and to stimulate production of acetylcholine, the chemical found in much reduced levels in Alzheimers patients. Anti-Inflammatory drugs allow a patients brain to respond better and keep mood swings at a lower level. Exercise keeps the patient active and their body responsive. Education is extremely helpful by challenging the mind to keep it active and alert. Scientists suggest crossword puzzles. (r.8)
The brain is severely affected by Alzheimers disease. The Hippocampus is one of the earliest areas of the brain to be affected by Alzheimers. By stage five, the brain is already fifty-percent destroyed. Once the Hippocampus is destroyed, the patient may not recall the last three years of their lives. Eventually an Alzheimer patient can develop Visual Agnosia, where their brain will be unable to comprehend what it is seeing. The Motor Cotex is the last area of the brain to be affected by Alzheimers disease. At this point, the person will be unable to swallow, talk, or even walk.(.r9)
Alzheimers disease is persistently being studied with the hope of cures, and a better understanding of how one person can overcome Alzheimers disease. The pain the family endures through watching their loved ones literally fade away will eventually ignite an ambitious attempt to finally cure this disease.