Alzheimer’s Disease Research Paper

Psychology is an applied as well as an academic field that studies both the human mind and behavior. The research in psychology attempts to explain and understand behavior, emotion and thought. The subject of psychology was created when Wilhelm Wundt opened up the very first psychology lab in Leipzig, Germany. Wilhelm Wundt believed that individuals who are appropriately trained would most likely be able to recognize the mental processes that are accompanied with feelings, thoughts and sensations (Wagner , 2009). Although psychology is a very broad topic, there are many sub-topics that make up what psychology is and it’s contents.

Some of those sub-topics include abnormal psychology, biological psychology, cognitive psychology and many more. The type of psychology that deals with how people store information, acquire and process is cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is a sub-topic within psychology that analyzes people’s internal mental process of thought that includes visual processing, memory, problem solving, and language (Wagner, 2009). The most common research that deals with cognitive psychology is researching a person’s memory and the ability to store it.

The brain stores a number of different types of information in many different places. There are two different types of memory in which the brain can store information. Those types include short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory involves recalling many details that have been stored minutes or even seconds before. Some examples include reading out loud a phone number, recognizing a person’s face, and no many others. On the other hand, long- term memory is a little different than short-term memory. Long- term memory is a type of memory that can as much as a few days or as long as decades after.

Short- term memory is a temporary powerful neural connections that can be converted in to long- term memory through the processes of rehearsal and association (Reyes, 2006). Within, both short-term and long- term memory, memory lapses and forgetfulness are very common. The ways in which this happens is through depression, stress, lack of sleep, and also through aging. Although memory loss is normal, it could only become a severe problem when it interferes with daily living (Reyes, 2006). Some diseases that occur due to severe memory loss are Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and amnesia. All

three of these diseases are very similar to one another. Amnesia is clearly defined as lack of memory or memory loss. Amnesia can occur either before or after a certain kind of trauma. Those types of amnesia are called antegrade and retrograde amnesia. Antegrade amnesia is a type of amnesia in which the loss of memory is directly related to certain events that have occurred after a very traumatic event. With this type of amnesia, there is an inability to recall all new information. Although all new information can not be recalled, a person has an ability to recall all old information that is stored in long- term memory.

If person does go through a traumatic event, antegrade amnesia may actually lead in to brain trauma (Crystal, 2009). Retrograde amnesia is a type of amnesia in which the loss of memory is directly related to certain events that have occurred before a very traumatic event. Dementia is a certain word that relates to a group of different types of symptoms that are caused by some disorders that affect the brain. Although Dementia is not a specific type of disease, people with this, in some cases, may not be able to think well enough on their own to do daily life activities such as eating on their own or dressing themselves.

Another thing people would not be able to do who are diagnosed with the symptoms to have dementia are that they might also lose their ability to control their own emotions and with this their personalities may change. Also people may as well lose the ability to solve the simplest problems (Crystal, 2009). Other types of symptoms that are accompanied with dementia include memory loss, seeing things that are not really there and a person having a stroke. Although some kinds of memory loss are very normal in the aging process, the changes that are caused by aging are not that extreme enough to conflict with it.

A number of certain diseases and conditions can cause dementia. These conditions and diseases consist of Parkinson’s disease, strokes, brain tumors, blood clots and Multiple Sclerosis, but the most common disease to cause this is Alzheimer’s disease (Crystal, 2009). Alzheimer’s disease is a very slowly progressive disease that occurs inside the brain in which is characterized by damage of memory. Also this type of disease can lead into interruption in language, problem solving, planning and perception. The chance of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease increases enormously after the age of 70 (Crystal, 2009).

Also people who are over the age of 85 have over a 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This type of disease is not at all normal in the aging process and is also not something that happens out of no where in a person’s life. For people developing Alzheimer’s disease, there is no actual test to diagnose a person with it. Doctors will diagnose a person with Alzheimer’s disease when they have a severe cognitive decline that will meet the standards of dementia, dementia is very consistent that it will turn in to Alzheimer’s disease and that no other brain diseases are better explanations for the dementia (Crystal, 2009).

In developing Alzheimer’s disease, there are a lot risk factors that are involved. Some of these risk factors include increased in age, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and also people who have Down syndrome will develop the brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease by the age of 40. Although there are a lot of risk factors, there are many genetic risk factors as well. The normal age for a person to develop Alzheimer’s disease is at the age of 70, but some people who have Alzheimer’s disease in their genes can either develop it earlier or later on in life.

2 – 5 percent of people develop Alzheimer’s disease in their 40’s and 50’s. The reason that this occurs is because these people have inherited some gene mutations that are directly related to Alzheimer’s disease. Also if a person who has an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the chances of their children developing this gene mutation that is related to Alzheimer’s disease is 50 percent (Crystal, 2009). Although there are cases of early onsets of Alzheimer’s disease, there are late onset cases as well. A very common form of a gene that is located on the 19th chromosome is directly related with the late onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

For the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, there are seven stages that a person who is diagnosed with this disease will go through in their life time (Alzheimer’s association, 2009). The first stage among the seven is called no impairment. In this stage a person who has this disease will experience no memory problems. In other words nothing happens at all within a person’s short-term or long-term memory. The second stage in this process is called very mild cognitive decline. In this type of stage a person will, in some cases, feel as if they have memory lapses or loss.

Examples of this may include forgetting someone’s name or a location of an object. The third stage in this process is called mild cognitive decline. In this stage a person may have problems with their memory or concentration. Some examples that may occur in this stage include the decreased chances of a person to have the ability to remember names when they are introduced to new people and losing or misplacing a very valuable object. The fourth stage in this process is called moderate cognitive decline. This stage is very similar to the third in that they both give a person with this disease problems with their memory and concentration.

In this stage a person will have decreased knowledge of recent events and occasions. Also the person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may seem withdrawn in socially and mentally challenging situations. The fifth stage in this process is called moderately sever cognitive decline. In this stage major gaps occur in a person’s memory and may have deficits in cognitive function. Some examples that may occur in this stage of Alzheimer’s disease is that a person may need help in choosing the proper type of clothing for a season or a special occasion.

Another example that may occur is that a person may have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic. The sixth stage of this process is called severe cognitive decline. In this stage a person will have a lot of difficulties with memory, their personality will change and a person will need an enormous amount of help with daily life activities. Some examples that may occur in this stage include that, on occasion, a person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will forget the name of their husband/ wife or their primary caregiver but generally can recognize familiar from unfamiliar faces.

Another example that may occur in this stage a person may experience a disruption of their normal sleeping and waking cycle. The last and final stage of this process is called very severe cognitive decline. In this stage a person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will lose the ability to respond in their own environment, the ability to control their own movement and also the ability to speak. Other examples that may occur in this stage is that, most of the time, a person will lose the capacity for recognizable speech, although words or phrases, on occasion, will be said correctly.

The occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease is very moderate and the progression of this type of disease happens very slowly. A person will know that they have developed Alzheimer’s disease once they have problems with their short- term memory. For example, a person may fail to remember to turn off the oven once they finished using it. Although short- term memory loss is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, there are may symptoms that also occur in the early stages of this disease. These symptoms include not severe personality changes, such as withdrawals from social situations. As Alzheimer’s disease advances other problems start to occur.

These problems consist within a person’s abstract thinking and as well as intellectual functions. Other problems that may occur are in a person’s behavior and also appearance. The problems that may occur within these consist of agitation, irritability, and a decline in a person’s ability to dress themselves (Crystal, 2009). Later on, as Alzheimer’s disease continues to become more severe, people with this may in fact become confused about what time of day or year it is, may have huge difficulty in describing of where they live to unable to describe any of the places they have ever visited.

Other things that can happen within the duration of Alzheimer’s disease is that people will be unable to have a conversation with someone, have many mood swings, have loss of control of both bladder and bowel and will be very uncooperative (Crystal, 2009). Within the very late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a person can lose over so much control of their mind and their body that they are incapable of taking care for themselves and need someone to do everything for them such has feeding them, bathing them and dressing them.

For those who develop Alzheimer’s disease over the age of 85 are more prone to die from other diseases such as heart disease rather than from Alzheimer’s disease itself (Crystal, 2009). People who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease do not, in some cases, die from it. Some reasons why people might die are because they have a lot of difficulty coping with these types of changes occurring that create very severe infections such as pneumonia. For most people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they can live at home as long as there is someone else helping them out as the disease continues to incline.

In most cases, people who are diagnosed with this type of disease keep the capacity to give and receive love from family members, still share a close, loving relationship with their significant other, and go on outings with family and friends (Crystal, 2009). With a person who has Alzheimer’s disease, the reaction of having this type of disease and coping with it varies within other people who have it as well. The reaction may depend on life factors such as their personality and stress in their environment.

There are illnesses that may occur with a person coping with Alzheimer’s diseases. These illnesses include depression, paranoia and delusions but all of these illnesses can be eliminated with the appropriate treatments (Crystal, 2009). Even though Alzheimer’s disease is not curable, there are many, both, medical and non- medical treatments that can depress many of the symptoms that cause a person to suffer. These treatments consist of cholinesterase inhibitors and partial glutamate antagonists.

With people who are suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, there lacks a certain type of chemical neurotransmitter that is in the brain called acetylcholine. This type of chemical neurotransmitter is very important to a person creating new memories. So what the cholinesterase inhibitors actually does is that block the breakdown of acetylcholine and this creates more of this chemical to go the brain and, as a result, it becomes much more easier for a person to create new memories (Crystal, 2009).

Glutamate is the neurotransmitter in the brain that is the most excitatory. If a person has too much of this in their brain it will cause some of their nerve cells to become damaged. There is a type of chemical that partially decreases the effect that glutamate has on the brain in order to activate nerve cells. This type of chemical is called memantine. Although memantine partially decreases the effect that glutamate has on the brain, it has not yet been proven that this type of chemical slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Howard Crystal (2009), studies have shown that some people who have Alzheimer’s disease and take the chemical memantine can take care of themselves better than people who intake sugar pills. This type of treatment does help with a person who is suffering from moderate and severe dementia. Neither of these treatments have been proved to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. So in this case, may clinical trials suggest that these types of treatments are far more superior than sugar pills in relieving some of the symptoms caused by Alzheimer’s disease (Crystal ,2009).

There are many non- medical treatments which help a person who is diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease to cope with it better. These non- medical treatments include walking, singing and dancing they are still able to do. All of these treatments maximize a person’s opportunities and as well as social interaction. Although there is not exactly a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are ,many clinical trials that are happening in trying to reduce the progression of this type of disease.

According to Howard Crystal (2009), as of June 2007, there are a number of clinical trials going on. Some of these trials are consisting of either increasing the amount of acetylcholine that goes into a persons brain or decreasing the amount. For family members who have a person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and do not want to put their member of a family in a nursing home, it would be a good idea to give that person a caregiver to help them out with daily life activities such as feeding them and dressing them.

Taking care of a caregiver is a very important part of helping the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Although care giving can be a very stressful experience, this gives the person to actually live in the quiet of their own home rather than being put into a nursing home. According to Howard Crystal (2009), the 3 R’s- Repeat, Reassure, and Redirect- can in fact help the person’s caregiver by reducing the trouble behaviors and reduce the use of medications that the person would have to take.

To increase the amount of knowledge that a caregiver has on a type of disease, in this case Alzheimer’s disease, there are short- term educational programs that give caregivers a lot of more knowledge than they already had on the disease and gives them more confidence in themselves. Although Alzheimer’s disease is a serious chronic illness, people who are diagnosed with this take treatment to reduce the symptoms that are created from it and live on with long healthy lives.

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