Psychology of Health and Disease
Aprl 6th 2013
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common, progressive forms of presenile dementia. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other intellectual activities, serious enough to interfere with daily life (NINDS, 2013). Alzheimer’s develops problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Alzheimer’s if not always a genetically related disease, about 5% of the total cases are totally genetically linked (NINDS, 2013). Most of the time scientists believe that there are environmental and lifestyle factors involved. It is an age related and non-reversible disorder that develops over a period of years. It starts out with memory loss and confusion. These types of memory changes can be mistaken for age related memory changes. These symptoms gradually progress and can then lead to behavior and personality changes (Clinic, S 2013). This can even reduce cognitive behavior such as not being able to recognize people, loosing language skills, and decrease decision-making skills. Eventually, AD leads to a severe loss of mental function. The reason to why Alzheimer’s occurs is not knows but it is known that it has a significant affect on the brain (Clinic, S 2013). There is a much higher rate of cell death in the brain. Alzheimer’s patients have a decreased number of brain cells than a normal brain would.
Although, the primary cause of brain cell death is not known but there are three parts of the brain that are related to AD. Amyloid plaques, Neurofibrillary tangles, and loss of connections between neurons responsible for memory and learning. Amyloid plaques are clumps of protein called beta-amyloid may damage and destroy brain cells in several ways, including interfering with cell-to-cell communication, this collection of beta-amyloid on the outside of brain cells is a prime suspect of the cause of Alzheimer’s. Neurofibrillary tangles are abnormal amount of protein called tau. Brain cells depend on an internal support and transport system to carry nutrients and other essential materials throughout their long extensions. This system requires the normal structure and functioning of tau. In Alzheimer's, threads of tau protein twist into abnormal tangles inside brain cells, this can causes the damage and death of brain cells (Clinic, S 2013). There is a loss of connections between neurons responsible for memory and learning because neurons cant survive when they loose their connections to other neurons, and as these neurons die through out the brain that affected region starts to shrink. By the end stage of AD there is a significant shrinkage thought the brain, which has caused damaged (NINDS, 2013).
Since Alzheimer’s causes a great amount of connections lost between certain neurons in the brain, it is a form of dementia. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are mostly related to mental functions such as, emotional behavior or personality, memory loss, difficulty with language, perception, confusion, and ability to think and judge (A.D.A.M. , S. 2011). Other. The symptoms of AD can worsen as the disease develops. Some of these include changing in sleep patterns, depression, delusion, swallowing problems and difficulty many other forms of daily activity (Clinic, S 2013).
There are currently no cures for AD. The goal of treatment of AD is to slow down the progression, manage symptoms, changing the living environment for convenience, and support from family and caregivers (NINDS, 2013).. Although there are no medications that will cure AD there are 4 medication that are FDA approved, and sold in the market today, what will help with the symptoms and help carry out daily activities by maintaining, thinking, behavior, memory, and learning skills. Those include, Donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Razadyne), which are prescribed for mild to moderate symptoms, and memantine (Namenda), for moderate to severe AD symptoms. Donepezil,…