The Pure Basics to Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease? It’s a disease which progressively degenerates the brain tissue. It generally occurs in people 65 years and older. The most common cause of elderly dementia is Alzheimer’s, which is marked by mental decline. Speech, comprehension and especially memory are drastically affected. This can be devastating to both the sufferer and loved ones.

Getting a Basic Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease

Impaired memory is one of the biggest, and often the first, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. First, recent or short-term memory is lost. In time, the following begins to occur, which tend to get worse at night:

  • Attention strays off into the abyss
  • Becomes impossible to do simple calculations
  • Gets increasingly hard to perform normal daily activities
  • Start becoming frustrated and bewildered often
  • Experience intense mood swings
  • Deeply indifferent for long periods of time
  • Long stints of fearfulness
  • Excessive angry outbursts
  • Becomes increasing disoriented
  • Tends to get lost and/or wander off often
  • Physically helplessness can occur
  • Incontinence often becomes a problem
  • Communications skills can eventually disappear altogether
  • Gradually develops physical issues such as loss of coordination or strange walk

In a matter of a few years, this mind-altering disease can run its entire course, from initial inception to death. There have also been cases where it continued playing out for up to 20 years. However, it’s quite common for those suffering from this disease to die within nine years.

As a matter of fact, here in the US, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death. Of those 65 and older, 1-out-8 currently suffers from the disease. At least half of patients in nursing homes suffers from it, or related disorders.

What are the Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease?

This disease is not one of the natural results of becoming elderly. The characteristic of gradual brain function loss appears to be related to two variations of nerve damage:

  1. Beta-amyloid plaques, which are protein deposits, build up within the sufferer’s brain
  2. Sufferer’s nerve cells get all tangled up, which is known as neurofibrillary tangles

Researchers are continuously working on understanding Alzheimer’s disease better. As of now, they still don’t know exactly how or why the disease or its processes occur. But, some of the more promising research seems to point to apolipoprotein E (ApoE). This is a blood protein necessary for carrying fatty substances around within the body.

The form of protein a person has within her/his body is determined genetically. The same goes for ApoE. It has been determined that several different forms of ApoE may actually be associated with increasing risks of Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe this may be due to these specific types leading to nerve damage.

Another possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease may be due to ApoE being responsible for plaques formation, combined with other types of substances. Whether any of this is actual true remains to be discovered. What is known is the people whose parent(s) suffered from Alzheimer’s disease are at greater risk of having it themselves someday.

Getting Help for Alzheimer’s in Utah County

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, his/her life will change forever. So, will yours. Currently, there’s no cure for the disease. However, there are various treatments available to help make the symptoms more bearable. Contact us to discuss effective treatments and Alzheimer care in Utah County today.

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