[[tab The Brain]]
Alzheimer's disease, a neurological illness that affects older adults, is the result of abnormal changes in brain tissue. “Alzheimer's disease is named after a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. This doctor discovered changes in a deceased mental patient's brain tissue— abnormal "clumps", today called amyloid plaques, and tangled "bundles of fibers", or neurofibrillary tangles.” In layman’s terms, Alzheimer’s disease is one that affects the short term memory of an individual causing them in early stages to forget people that they have recently met, the inability to recall recent events, or being incapable of solving simply math problems. Furthermore, during the middle stage of Alzheimer’s the individual’s brain is affected even more, leading that person to forget various tasks including brushing their hair, and other various things such as the recognition of familiar people and places may be lost along with speaking reading and/or writing possibly being affected. Additionally, the later stages of this disease may lead to aggression, anxiety, and eventually rendering the individual incapable of doing anything by themselves, usually placing them under the category of needing someone to take complete care of them. All of the above are clear signs that Alzheimers is a force to be reckoned with however, is there a way to stop this terrible disease from occurring?We are informed in the article that not only does keeping yourself active physically benefit you in the long run but providing your brain with an every day workout does as well. After all it always happens to be the little things that our body needs the most.
“Several studies have found that folks who regularly engage in mentally challenging activities—like reading, doing crossword puzzles or playing chess—seem less likely to develop dementia later in life.” Furthermore, another theory is “The research linking heart and brain health” which “is so strong that” they have even linked it to cardiac disease shown in “A study published in August found that folks with three or more major cardiovascular risk factors—for example, hypertension, diabetes and current smoking—were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as well.” The evidence is so compelling that even “Doctors have long known that suffering one or more strokes, which interrupt the flow of blood to the brain, increases the likelihood of dementia.” Additionally, what is even more exciting is the fact that in “A 20-year survey of 469 elderly people living in the Bronx, N.Y.,” the elderly people who were “reading and playing board games or a musical instrument was associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.” Also, those who exercised their brains by solving “crossword puzzles four days a week, for instance, had a 47% lower risk of dementia than those who do the puzzles once a week.” Overall, let’s face it we all face the risk of Alzheimers but "Let's say you're dialed in to get Alzheimer's disease at 82. You may be able to push that back until maybe you're 92." It is all based on how hard you work and “It may get harder as you age, but if you can teach an old brain new tricks, you might, just might, also be able to keep it functioning well into the 90s.”
From what we have accumulated from the article chosen, it has brought us to the obvious conclusion that in order to keep dementia at bay, we must keep our body in shape as a whole. All the studies that are brought to our attention in this article pass our plausibility test with flying colors leaving no stone unturned. We were provided with ample information on the various studies on the disease as well as compelling evidence presenting us with the statistically, however not yet proven, forms of preventing the disease. Moreover, the information simply creates a feeling of stupidity, seen as how the family doctor always stresses the concept of eating right as well as exercising and it just so happens that those very activities.
Although most people associate Alzheimer’s only with memory loss, this is only one of the earliest symptoms. After the irreversible deterioration of memory comes “a gradual decline of other intellectual and thinking abilities, called cognitive functions, and changes in personality or behavior.”
The following is a list of 7 warning signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Repeating questions.
2. Repeating stories.
3. Forgetting activities that were previously done with ease and regularity (such as cooking).
4. Losing the ability to pay bills or balance checkbooks.
5. Getting lost and misplacing household objects.
6. Neglecting to bathe, wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
7. Relying on someone else, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.
"As was mentioned earlier it is not quite sure what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease besides from the fact it has direct relations to hereditary factors and to age. As stated above, scientists have begun to uncover certain patterns within those diagnosed with the disease. There is “a gene on chromosome 19 that makes protein called apolipoprotein E4 is especially common in people who develop Alzheimer’s disease. “ People who are heterozygous for the gene have a 40 percent chance of developing the disease by age eighty.” (Nesse and Williams, 1996) Most likely there are other genes which increase the risk of Alzheimer’s although apolopoprotein is the only risk factor gene discovered so far."
S.I. Rapoport suggests that “the genetic changes that led to the very rapid increase in human brain size over the past four million years either cause Alzheimer’s in some people or produce side effects that have not yet been mediated by other genetic changes.” (Nesse and Williams, 1996)
"When looking from a Darwinian perspective at the evolutionary causes of disease, we think that three are very relevant, Genes, Design Compromises and Evolutionary Legacies. I have chosen to discus Design Compromises as we feel it is extremely relevant. When comparing to Rapoports suggestion, the larger brains which were designed to allow us to become smarter than any other living creatures, has made way for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. “There are costs associated with every major structural change preserved by natural selection.” (Neese and Williams, 1996)
"As of now, there are no known cures for Alzheimer’s, although there are a few treatments which can help minimize the affects of Alzheimer’s. Please visit the links below to visit the Alzheimer's Association and find out more about each of the following categories of treatments.
Standard Prescriptions – “All of these drugs are designed to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain that is important for memory and other thinking skills.” (www.alz.org, 2006)
Alternative Treatments – Dietary supplements and herbal remedies are some mentioned here, although their effectiveness has not been proven.
Clinical Trials – The latest treatments, although not yet government approved, are tested on large numbers of patients."