Alzheimer's Disease

 Alzheimer's Disease


Alzheimer's Disease


Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder which gradually destroys the ability to reason, remember, imagine and learn. It’s different from the mild forgetfulness normally found in older people. Over the course of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s no longer recognize themselves or much about the world around them. Depression, anxiety, and paranoia often accompany these symptoms. Although there is no cure, new treatments help lessen Alzheimer’s symptoms and slow it’s progression.


Alzheimer’s is marked by abnormal clumps and knots in the brain cells. For reasons not fully understood, these abnormalities tangle and take over the brain tissue and effects the area of the brain associated with intellectual function. Over four million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s. Slightly more women than men have Alzheimer’s disease. While the disease usually affects those over 65 years of age, a rare and aggressive form of Alzheimer’s can happen in some people in their 40’s and 50’s.


Alzheimer’s disease progresses slowly, taking between three to 18 years to advance from the earliest symptoms to death; the average duration of the disease is eight years. Death does not result from the disease itself but from some secondary illness such as pneumonia or urinary tract infection. Stages of Alzheimer’s: · At the very beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease it is marked by simple forgetfulness, especially of recent events or directions to familiar places and in some cases, personality changes. · The next stage of the disease is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision making and the use of judgement.


Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s can’t do simple daily tasks to live such as eating, bathing and using the toilet. They may also lack interest in personal hygiene and appearance and lose their sex drive. They may have a hard time recognizing everyone except those they come in contact with on a daily basis. Communication of all kinds become increasingly difficult as written and spoken language skills digress. Withdrawal from family members begins and the person becomes easily agitated and is in denial of the illness. · In the last stages, people with Alzheimer’s become bedridden, unable to recognize themselves and their closest friends and family members. They may make small, purposeless movements and communicate only by screaming out occasionally. Essentially, the brain forgets how to live.


Currently, doctor’s can’t diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 100% certainty until a brain autopsy is performed after the person’s death and reveals the disease’s markers (abnormal clumps and knots in the brain cells). Although, diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is largely determined by doctors experience in dealing with demented patients and symptoms, experts estimate patients with symptoms of Alzheimer’s are accurate 90% of the time. Risk Factors The four most prominent risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include: · Increasing Age · Family history, genetics, Down syndrome · Being Female · Environmental Factors The main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. The older you grow, the greater your risks.


Studies show from age 65 - 74, about 3% of people have this disease. From age 75 - 84, the number rises to about 19%. And for those 85 and older, Alzheimer’s afflicts 47% of people. Currently, the U.S. population is aging, with people over 85 becoming the nation’s fastest growing age group. Because this is also the group most affected by the disease, experts warn that unless researchers discover how to prevent this disease, by the year 2050, approximately 15% of those over 65 might have Alzheimer’s. The risk factor of simply being female is especially interesting to me. Studies show that compared with men, women are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Women also have a treatment option available to them that is unavailable to men which is the female sex hormone – estrogen. Several studies show that estrogen helps prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s. Women who take estrogen have an unexpectedly low incidence of Alzheimer’s, they suffer less sever symptoms and slower mental deterioration. Estrogen improves blood flow through the brain which enhances verbal abilities and helps maintain memory of postmenopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy.


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