Alzheimer’s is a disease that is associated with the Nervous System. It was discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1906. It results in loss of memory and cognitive abilities. These cognitive declines disrupt daily life due to their severity. The following with describe the Nervous System and the several aspects of the disease itself.
The Nervous System is composed of numerous complex characteristics and it enables humans to process information and a reaction based on this information. It also allows humans to have touch, sight, smell, hearing, and taste, which are referred to as the five senses. The nervous system is composed of three major organs: the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves. The brain is where the information is processed, and a decision is made. This all occurs due to stimuli, or something that initiates a reaction an organism’s reaction, and it can be internal or external. The cerebrum of the brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. Each side is responsible for various functions. The right side is more creative, creative, and emotional. On the contrary, the left side of the brain is logical, intuitive, and analytical, gathering information form the past and present to predict the future. The cerebellum is located below the cerebrum (in humans) and is on the opposite side of the frontal lobe, which is located at the front of the brain. The cerebellum handle motor control. The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. The function of the spinal cord is to connect all the nerves throughout the body to the brain. When a physical response is deemed appropriate, the nerves send and carry a message, or a nerve impulse, to a specific muscle, and one is sent back to the brain to let it know the action has been done. Neurons, or nerve cells, also allow this information to be sent. Dendrites carry the impulse towards the cell body, while axons carry the impulse away from the cell body. The synapse is a space between the axon and another structure. An example of this structure would be a dendrite or muscle tissue cell. The nervous system has two sections; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves outside of that (throughout the body.)
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Alzheimer’s is responsible for 60-80% of all documented cases of Dementia. An estimated 200,000 Americans whom are under 65 years old have been diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. In the United States. Alzheimer’s Disease has been identified as the 6th leading cause of death. Although life after symptoms become prominent to other ranges from 4-20 years, on average, those who have been diagnosed will live 8 years after their symptoms.
In general, Alzheimer’s effects the Nervous System by terminating neurons in designated areas of the brain, while decreasing a neurotransmitter, known as acetylcholine; therefore, it results in memory loss, cognitive decline, and its other major symptoms that take place throughout the stages of the disease.
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease have not been specifically identified. Despite this, experts have liked metallic toxins, genetic factors, viruses, and anomalous neurotransmitters. Based on research done on cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s, the disease may be inherited through genes. Genes are in the chromosomes, which are derived from the person’s parents. Proteins are made according to the directions the genes give to the cells. The cells can make an irregular type of the protein if the directions are given incorrectly. This would occur through a mutation. Research on various families concluded that the mutations affect the production of beta-amyloid, which is built up between neurons to form plaques. These people have a minutely higher production of a form of this protein. They will get Alzheimer’s in their 40’s and 50’s, because they will get a build-up of the plaque in their brain.
As stated previously, a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease would be the high presence of plaque in the brain. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, different symptoms occur throughout various stages. Those with Alzheimer’s will have a hard time recalling recently learned information; therefore, they will forget information about recent events etc. Families will also notice abnormal behavior and mood changes according to the way individua’s’ normal demeanor. Those diagnosed will also be confused on topics concerning events, time, and place. The individual will also be suspicious regarding family, friends, and caregivers. As the disease progresses, those with Alzheimer’s will struggle with swallowing, walking, and speaking.
There are several consequences of the disease. Those with Alzheimer’s disease slowly loose their connections and bonds with their loved ones, because the disease not only alters their behavior, but it changes their personality. The result is that family and friends feel distanced from the diagnosed individual. The person with Alzheimer’s disease also loses touch with themselves, and the feel out of place once they are aware of the disease and they witness how it develops in themselves. They will eventually lose the ability to participate in activities they enjoyed and the abilities to do things that make them who they are. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatment is available to slow its progression and help suppress symptoms. For example, Donepezil (brand of Aricept), and Rivastigmine (brand of Exelon), and Galantamine (brand of Razadyne) are all FDA- approved drugs that can treat mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s. The drugs do treat the disease, but they do come with common side effects. Side effects associated with all three listed Cholinesterase Inhibitors consist of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Memantine is accompanied by the side effects of headaches, constipation, confusion, and dizziness. Regular exercise aids the preservation of cognitive abilities and improves moods and combats depression, due to endorphins produced when exercise occurs. Problems with sleep can also be avoided by exercise due to the individual feeling physically tired by nightfall. There are also several nonmedical options that are available. Their sole purpose is to better the lives of the people with Alzheimer’s. Crafts, reading, painting, and drawing help the person express themselves, which they can have a hard time doing as the stages of Alzheimer’s progress. Activities referred to as reminiscence therapy consist of the person looking at photos from the past. They also watch old movies and televisions shows, and they elaborate on significant events in their past. Memories of the past are remembered and recalled better than recent memories in those with Alzheimer’s. This is due to how Alzheimer’s effects the area of the brain that handles learning.
In other countries and cultures, the household and family revolve around the elderly due to the experience and wisdom they have about life. On the contrary, it is not uncommon for people to put the elderly of their family into nursing homes in America. Here they can be mistreated and neglected. Due to their age and the mental consequences of Alzheimer’s, those with the disease can be perceived as crazy people. As Alzheimer’s progresses, those with the disease can wander from their house and become lost. Due to the perception of their mental state, they can be dismissed; therefore, they can be in danger.
Politically, there has not been any laws made or altered to adapt to those with Alzheimer’s. I think laws should be made to provide care for those diagnosed. As a result, their family members can still work. There should also be laws made to provide universal healthcare for those not only with Alzheimer’s but other conditions as well. Conducted as the way taxes are currently done in the United States, each person would be charged a small amount, and this would fund and provide healthcare for everyone. Those with Alzheimer’s and their families would not have to pay for costly drugs, treatments, and methods for diagnosis for their loved one.
Current new avenues for research on the disease are composed of what contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This includes diet, genes, and hormone replacement therapy. Scientist are also researching how other diseases and conditions can put someone more at risk of Alzheimer’s or contribute to its development. These diseases include diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Alzheimer’s has had numerous economic effects. For example, in 2010 it was recorded that $172 billion was the cost of health care and long-term care for those with the disease. In the year 2002, it was documented that U.S. businesses lost $36.5 billion due to employees having quit and missed work. They ha to due do this in efforts to care for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Several celebrities have helped raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. For instance, Rita Hayworth made a public announcement concerning her Alzheimer’s in 1981. She passed in 1987, and her daughter (whom cared for her while she had the disease) become involved in the raising of funds to help fight the disease. Former United States President Ronald Regan once stated in a letter that he hoped his public announcement “might promote great awareness of this condition.”
My grandmother, Ernestina De Luna Cabral, had Alzheimer’s and passed in 2014. Once she was diagnosed, she didn’t feel the need to worry about it. She coped with it by believing everything would be fine in the end. My Tía remembers when they would go out in public. They would receive looks and stares, because people weren’t educated on the disease and assumed it was contagious. My entire family remembers initially being shocked by her diagnosis, since overall, she was a healthy person. Although she exercised regularly, she had done estrogen hormone replacements, which could have put her more at risk of Alzheimer’s. Once she entered the more server stages of Alzheimer’s my Tía and grandfather alternated caring for her 24/7. She could no longer perform basic task such as eating and bathing.
In conclusion, because it slowly takes a person away from their own body. I learned that is more common than I initially thought. I think looking into how to prevent the disease and how to identify the genes that contribute to the disease are lacking. As a society, I feel that would should provide support and care for those with not only Alzheimer’s but other disease that do not allow them to take care of themselves. It will also get worse in quantity as the populations grows and people continue to get older in age. Old age is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
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