Abstract Alzheimer’s has many causes and affects each patient differently. There have been studies done that have found that older African American’s are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than older whites. A cause of Alzheimer’s has not been completely identified yet, but genetic and environmental factors are known to increase the risk. While we all know that Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease there are many signs that go along with each stage of the disease. Along with Alzheimer’s comes a series of complications. Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in the elderly but is found to be most common in African Americans. This disease is a neurodegenerative disorder (loss of neurons) that is devastating and always fatal. Alzheimer’s has many causes and affects each patient differently with many different risk factors. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease got its name from Dr. Alois Alzheimer who was a German neurologist who discovered some different changes in a woman’s brain tissue that had passed away (Cayton, Graham, & Warner,2001).
This disease is a neurodegenerative disorder (loss of neurons) that is devastating and always fatal. Alzheimer’s disease in general is found in one in 1,000 in people 65 and under. As we get older the disease is more common being diagnosed in 3 in 100 people 65 and older. Those who are 80 will see the most amount of diagnosis’s being at a rate of 10-15 per 100 people. While we all know that Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease there are many signs that go along with each stage of the disease.
Some of the common early signs of Alzheimer’s are language problems, misplacing items, getting lost on familiar routes, personality changes and loss of social skills, losing interest in things previously enjoyed, difficulty performing tasks. Some signs that may not be noticed until Alzheimer’s is in later stages are forgetting details about current events, forgetting events in their own life history, change in sleep patterns, difficulty reading and writing, poor judgment and loss of ability to recognize danger, and violent behavior.
Severe Alzheimer’s has a few signs which are: can not understand language, can not recognize family, and can not perform activities of daily living (Helpguide, 2010). Along with the basics of Alzheimer’s there comes personal complication along with medical complications. Some personal complications can be loss of ability to care for self, loss of ability to interact with anyone, harmful or violent behaviors towards self and others, and sun downing (withdrawal or agitation in the evening).
Some medical complications that can arise are bedsores and muscle contractures, falls and broken bones, malnutrition and dehydration, failure of body systems, infections, asphyxiation (stopped breathing), suicide, and coronary disease. All of these depend on the person but generally you will see at least a couple of the same symptoms in different patients. Although there has not been a cause completely identified they have found that genetic and environmental factors are known to increase the risk.
The most common environmental factor that has been found to affect those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is too much zinc which causes clumps in the brain similar to the plaques of Alzheimer’s disease (Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 1995). Through the years of studying genetic risk factors that go along with Alzheimer’s geneticists (specialist in genetics) have found that people who inherit a genetic mutation (event that changes genetic structure) from a parent have the highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
It has been found that early onset Alzheimer’s is caused by a mutation of chromosomes (threadlike linear strand in DNA) 21, 14, and one, but these mutations are not associated with late onset Alzheimer’s. The risk factor that has been found in people with late onset Alzheimer’s is the increase in apolipoprotein E (protein that plays role in brain function) which is found in chromosome 19. In 2007 geneticists at National Institute of Aging reports that a genetic risk factor called SORL1 was found in the development of Alzheimer’s (National Institute of Aging, 2008).
According to Mattson (2004) mutations in PS1 and PS2 are believed to cause Alzheimer’s by increasing production of the neurotoxin (substance causing damage to nerves) forms of AB (antibody). Along with individuals that inherit E4 isoform (protein) are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In a study that was done called aging, demographics and memory study (ADAMS) it was found that older African Americans are two times more likely than older whites to develop Alzheimer or any other dementia.
Some of the reasons that have been discovered as to why older African Americans are more common to have Alzheimer’s is because they are found to have higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, along with other vascular diseases. Some other factors that can affect who may end up with Alzheimer’s are lower level of education, and socioeconomic characteristics which are found to be more common in African Americans. In the health and retirement study (HRS) 80% of African Americans were found to have high blood pressure.
Other risks that have been found to have increased risk of Alzheimer’s are those with lower educations, low income being below $18,000 a year, and lived in rural area as a child. The studies that have been done have shown that African Americans are the most common in which they see all of these leading risks of developing Alzheimer’s. African Americans are less likely to have a diagnosis because of the delay time between the times that they first recognize signs of Alzheimer’s and the time that they receive a medical evaluation. As of now there has not been any kind of cure or real treatment for Alzheimer’s.
The most that can be done so far is to slow the progression or treat some of the symptoms. According to (Alzheimer’s Association,2010) the food and drug administration have approved five drugs that temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about six to 12 months, for close to half of the patients taking them. The Alzheimer’s Association (2010) website also stated that data has shown that the management of cardiovascular factors, such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity may help avoid or delay cognitive decline.
It has also been found that low fat diets that are rich with fruits and vegetables may also support brain health. The best thing to do with a patient with Alzheimer’s is to be there for them for anything they need. You can’t take it personally if they forget who you are or if they get angry with you because it is part of the disease. They don’t even realize they are yelling at you and they don’t know that they are becoming violent. Everyday someone is diagnosed with this disease. There are 27 new cases each day and 10,000 new cases each year. Research is being done to treat the disease, but so far there are only ways to slow the progression.
References Alzheimers Association. (2010). Alzheimers Association. Retrieved from http://www. alz. org/documents_custom/report_alzfactsfigures2010. pdf Cayton, H. , Graham, N. , & Warner, J. (2001). Dementia: Alzheimer’s and other Dementias: The At Your Fingertips Guide (2nd ed. ). London, GBR: Class Publishing. Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (1995). Environmental factors in Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from: http://www. cchs. net/health/health-info/docs/2300/2344. asp? index=9174 Helpguide. (2010). Alzheimer’s disease: Signs, symptoms, and stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Retrieved from helpguide website: http://www. helpguide. org/elder/alzheimers_disease_symptoms_stages. htm Kantor, D. (2010). Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from PubMed Health website: www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001767 Mattson, M. P. (2004). Alzheimer’s disease. In F. I. Tarazi. , & J. A. Schetz. (Ed. ). , Neurological and psychiatric disorders: From bench to bedside (pp. 51-62). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press National Institute of Aging. (2008). Alzheimer’s disease genetics fact sheet. Retrieved from: http://www. nia. nih. gov/Alzheimers/Publications/geneticsfs. htm.