Alzheimer’s Disease Psychology 275 Current Issues in the Brain Kassandra Skinner Winter Quarter 2012
What is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?• Of all the diseases to be diagnosed with, Alzheimer’s strikes the most fear into people’s hearts.• It is progressive and debilitating.• It will rob you of: o The ability to communicate o Think clearly o Function o Awareness of yourself and environment o All controls including the ability to dress yourself, eat or keep up on personal hygiene. o Memories of your family and loved ones.• Will eventually lead to death.
In AD Patients: 60-80% cases of• The areas that control memory & dementia fall thinking are affected first. under• Plaques form when protein pieces Alzheimer’s called beta-amyloid clump together. These are dense and mostly insoluble. Disease• Neurofibrillary tangles are aggregates of the protein tau which has accumulated inside the cells. o Where tangles form the transport system falls apart and disintegrates. o Nutrients and essential supplies can’t move through cells and they die. o This process spreads throughout the brain.• Deficient in an important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, whic h is involved in memory function and may help to preserve nerve cell Clusters of plaques and dying membranes. nerve cells in a person with AD
Healthy Brain (L) AD Brain (R)The bottom image shows the two brains together to see the difference in size.
Diagnosing AD• Diagnosis is not a simple process and includes: o Brain Scans o Cognitive Assessments o Laboratory Tests• On average, patients with AD live 7-10 years after initial diagnosis.• The disease can last as long as 20 years.• 4.5 million Americans have AD.• Affects women more than men: o 2/3 of those diagnosed are women.
Signs & Symptoms• Depression can be a symptom and may begin occurring up to 3 years prior to diagnosis of AD. o Most people put this off as not a big deal when it could mean a great difference in outcome if examined.• Memory Loss• Behavioral Issues not normal to the patient.• Confusion about time and place.• Trouble finding appropriate words or loss of speech.• Poor judgment.• Changes in mood and personality, such as suspicion.
Types of Alzheimer’s• Early Onset Alzheimer’s o Diagnosed before the age of 65. o Rare• Late Onset Alzheimer’s o Occurs after the age of 65. o Most common• Familial Alzheimer’s o Entirely inherited o Extremely rare
Emotionally and Financially Draining• Alzheimer’s is emotionally hard for family as they attempt to take care of their loved one. As the memory goes the behavioral issues get worse.• Eventually the patient will need 24 hour care.• The annual cost of caring for one individual with AD ranges from nearly $18,500 to more than $36,000, depending on the stage of the disease.
Cures• There are no known cures for Alzheimer’s.• There are many studies underway with some promising results in slowing the disease down. o Memantine has shown encouraging results among those in advanced stages of AD.• Melatonin has also shown some promise but needs further study.• Antioxidants are extremely important.• Exercise for the body & brain at any stage.• A blue dye, methylene blue (MTC), slowed progression by 81%. It causes tau filaments to dissolve.
Prevention• The general consensus is that prevention is the key in dealing with AD. o Exercise regularly both body and mind. o Maintain a normal healthy body weight. o Enjoy leisure activities. o Stay connected and social. o Practice stress reduction techniques. o Consume a diet rich in antioxidants. o Avoid trans fat and saturated fat. o Eat a diet that is 75% raw. o Avoid toxins as much as possible in your food and environment.
Sources• http://www.alz.org• http://www.alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers• YouTube videos: o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wv9jrk-gXc o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF7iD0B8jWU
Annotated Bibliography• "Depression One of First Signs of Alzheimer’s." Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services 38.1 (2000): 7-.ProQuest Research Library. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.• This article discusses how depression could be one of the first signs to the onset of Alzheimer ’s disease. It was useful to my project because I needed to consider all signs and symptoms of AD and most other articles or books didn’t even mention depression as a warning sign. Knowing this could prompt people to get help sooner while it is easier to treat the symptoms of AD.• Gura, Trisha. "Hope in Alzheimer’s Fight Emerges from Unexpected Places." Nature medicine 14.9 (2008): 894- . ProQuest Research Library. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.• This article was fascinating in that they discussed some possible treatments against AD and a man named Claude Wischik accidentally stumbled upon how the blue dye that they use for electron microscopy was dissolving the tau filaments built up in the brain of an AD patient.• Pandey, Poorti, Mritunjai Singh, and I. S. Gambhir. “Alzheimer’s Disease: A Threat to Mankind.” Journal of Stress Physiology & Biochemistry 7.4 (2011): 15-30. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.• This source has a lot of information that I was able to utilize for my report in regards to Alzheimer’s disease. It covers a lot of the basic information and expands on different types of dementia.• Perlmutter, David and Colman, Carol. The Better Brain Book. New York: Penguin Group, 2004. Print.• This book is an amazing source for understanding how the brain works in relation to our food, environment and the different types of drugs we take and the effect they can have on our brain. He gives a lot of suggestions and solutions as far as supplements and diet changes that can be made. He makes a point to address what types of drugs are actually working and those that are not. I would recommend that everyone read this book for overall brain health.• Pohanka, Miroslav. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Disorders: Implication and Counteracting of Melatonin.” Journal of Applied Biomedicine 9.4 (2011): 185-196. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.• This article focused on melatonin and the promise that it has in treating AD. Melatonin helps with sleep and those with AD have irregular sleep patterns and melatonin can help to get that back on track and by doing that it has the potential to improve the brain while the patient is sleeping on a regular basis.