Alzheimer’s Disease Mystery

Introduction

Alzheimer’s disease is an old age related progressive disease that results in mental, cognitive, physical and behavioral impairment. The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are family factors, gene and life style factors. There are three stages for Alzheimer’s disease; they are broadly classified as mild, moderate and severe. I would like to focus on various factors related to Alzheimer’s disease like symptoms and stages of this disease, its origin etc. Alzheimer’s disease will be one of the dangerous diseases that humanity is going to face in coming years.

Facts on Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects a person’s cognitive ability showing difficulty in organizing thoughts and behavior. A person with Alzheimer’s disease is affected by inability to understand, think, remember, communicate and control emotions. They show restlessness and repeat the same words and actions. Alzheimer’s disease starts with mild symptoms of forgetfulness and it progresses into a harder disease showing mental, behavioral, and physical disabilities finally resulting in death. The patient can live from eight to twenty years after the identification.

Causes of Alzheimer’s disease

There are three causes for the Alzheimer’s disease which is age, family history, and life style factors. Older people who are above 65 are mostly affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Ten percentage of Alzheimer’s disease cases are reported in the middle age. “People who have a parent or sibling that developed Alzheimer’s disease are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than those with no family history of Alzheimer’s.” (Hill, 2009) It is because of the transmission of genes. There are two types of genes which are considered as the cause for Alzheimer’s disease. They are ‘ApoE4’ and ‘deterministic gene’. The life style factors that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease are serious head injuries, use of tobacco, and excessive use of alcohol. Exercise, healthy diet, being socially active, indulging in different activities that give intellectual stimulation are some of the factors that would protect from this disease. Mostly it is an older age; but 10% of cases are reported among youth. Those who met with an accident also are found to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, anyone can get affected by this disease, but it is mostly determined by genes, age and family factors. We all forget things but when it begins to create problems in life due to forgetfulness, it is identified as the initial stage of dementia that may later develop as Alzheimer’s disease. The brain works with the help of neurotransmitters helping to communicate the brain cells. An Alzheimer’s disease patient is reported having fewer amounts of neurotransmitters. The deposits of fiber and protein in the brain cells can be observed in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Eventually the brain cells are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Trace to the first case of the Alzheimer’s disease

The first case of Alzheimer’s disease was reported in Germany, at the University of Munich in the Max Plank Institute of Neurobiology. Firstly, the degenerative disease was named after “Alois Alzheimer” who was a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist in1906. He conducted a study by observing a 51 year old woman who was suffering from mental and behavioral inabilities and died after four years. After death, her brain was examined with a microscope. Alois Alzheimer found a substance in the cerebral cortex and the shrinking of the brain was also observable. “About 3 percent of men and women aged 65 to 74 have AD, and nearly half of those age 85 and older may have the disease. It is important to note, however, that AD is not a normal part of aging.” (Prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, 2009, Clinical trial Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders: NIMH). Twenty three million people are reported to have Alzheimer’s disease in a worldwide estimate. The researchers concluded that the number of Alzheimer’s disease patients will increase to 106 million by 2050. 48% of worldwide Alzheimer’s disease patients are from Asian countries.

The people affected by Alzheimer’s disease need much care from family and society. “When people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, their family and friends usually must care for them and make decisions on their behalf, tasks that can be emotionally and physically draining.” (Powell, & Courtice, 2002, Book overview).

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

The Alzheimer’s disease causes to experience symptoms like irregularity in mental abilities, emotional disturbances and behavioral changes. The irregularities in mental ability are inability to understand, think and communicate properly, inability to take proper decisions, simple works which were being performed continuously become harder to do, losing of memory and confusion between different words and concepts and inability to use proper words in the right place. Emotional disturbances are becoming disinterested in activities which were performed happily, mood changes, being introvert and feeling a range of emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, anger and love. Some of the behavioral changes that are found among these patients are continuously using same words and performing same actions, restlessness, doing harm to self. This will result in terrible coordination of words, actions and thoughts.

Different stages of Alzheimer’s disease

There are three broadly specified stages in the development of Alzheimer’s disease known as mild, moderate and severe. In the initial stage there will be no impairment; after sometime there will be minimal impairment and normal forgetfulness. Mild stage which is also known as early stage has duration of 2 to 4 years showing continuous loss of memory, problem in understanding and expressing language, feeling depression and difficulty in writing words. Moderate or middle stage has duration of 2 to 10 years. The prime characteristics of this stage are pervasive memory loss and the impact of it on life, confusion on time, place, words, concepts, events and showing rambling speeches, abnormal thoughts and disturbances in mood, behavior and sleep. Third stage is the last stage known as severe or late stage, having duration of 1 to 3 years showing confusion about past and present, inability to identify familiar persons, loss of complete verbal ability, and lack of self care, extreme problem with the mood and behavior changes and often experiencing hallucinations. Alzheimer’s disease is not curable but it is controllable with the practice of sharpening the mind. Along with keeping the body more healthy, the mind also should be sharpened through the games such as chess, play of cards etc. In future there may develop drugs that which can stimulate cognitive abilities.

Researches on Alzheimer’s disease

There are a number of researches being conducted for identifying the basic characteristics of the gene which is responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. The promising areas of research are even though science has identified the risks of gene ApoE4 there are a lot to understand about how it leads to risks. Epidemiological study used observational method that collects information from daily behavior of the affected people. Clinical researches assess which medication, device and treatment is more effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. The researches unravel the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease day by day. Recently the scientists told that the damage to vascular system in the body will contribute to the development of the Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic diseases like diabetes 2, cardiovascular disease, and strokes will lead to the damage of vascular system that which results in the decline of cognitive system and decline in the cognitive system has a vital role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease mostly seen among old age people. It is a severe disease that would result in the impairment of physical, mental and behavioral activities. The paper includes various stages and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, its origin, researches etc. Alzheimer’s disease will be a dangerous disease in the coming years.

Reference

Hill, C. (2009). What causes Alzheimer’s disease:? Family history. About.com: Alzheimer’s Disease. Web.

Prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease: Clinical trial Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders: NIMH (excerpt). (2009). WD. Web.

Powell, L S., & Courtice, K. (2002). Alzheimer’s disease: a guide for families and caregivers: Book overview (3rd ed.). Perseus Pub.