How has Dementia played a role in the memory loss and the death of many loved ones? Dementia, a term that refers to many different brain diseases that mainly involve the loss of cognitive functioning. There are many types of diseases related to dementia such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Huntington’s Disease is where you have a degeneration of the nerve cells in your brain, Parkinson’s Disease is where the nerve cells in the brain that produces neurotransmitters that help you function physically and emotionally start to wear off, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a degenerative brain disorder that leads to dementia and will later cause death (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). The most common type of Dementia would be Alzheimer’s disease, which was founded by Alois Alzheimer in the 1900s. Alzheimer’s is listed to be in the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. Why is Alzheimer’s so difficult to cope with and why is it hard to find a cure? Alzheimer’s disease is an ongoing mental decay that can occur in people from the age of thirty to seventy years of age, in which your brain cells will die off over time. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, that is, it mainly affects the brain which is going to lose its functions gradually. Specifically, it is produced by the appearance of certain cells such as senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are going accumulate inside the brain, causing a progressive loss of functionality, of which, the most evident is the deterioration of memory (Juan Moises De La Serna 2017.P. 6-8). In spite of the fact that Alzheimer’s may be a hard disease to detect, the top four most important things to look out for and detect are the different symptoms, watch for different phase changes, get tests done regularly if you notice changes, and look for any treatments.
Alzheimer’s disease has a total of seven major phases. In stage one which is called No Impairment, is where the doctors do the test on patients and find no symptoms prone to Dementia. The following stage is called Very Mild Decline, in which it’s where you start to lose your memory and suffer from short-term memory loss. Stage 3 is called Mild Decline stage, is when a person is prone to misplacing their personal belongings and they tend to always lose their train of thought. Stage 4 is called Moderate Decline in which the person can’t provide all of their overall basic needs. Stage 5 is Moderately Severe Decline, is when you can’t perform basic physical things such as bathing yourself or getting dressed. In stage 6, which is the Severe Decline you start to have twenty-four-hour supervision because you are not able to contain and provide for yourself. Stage 7, is called the Very Severe Decline because in this stage it would be classified as the last final stages in life; This stage is where people lose their appetite, don’t communicate verbally, and their bodies become very weak. Alzheimer’s affects their personality, their behavior, thinking, memory, and their ability to speak (James Galvin, 2018. P. 15).
Recent research stated, “The end-stage dementia life expectancy is about several months to several years after the initial diagnosis.” When it comes to the final stages of the disease, you can start to develop other illnesses that could lead you to hospitalization or even death.
A patient’s overall health plays a major part in this disease. Many risk factors included aging, family history, and carrying certain genes. It has been known for years that women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men(Jennifer Lombardo, P. 109 ). Some other causes are more serious such as having high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and also previous brain injuries such as concussions. What causes Dementia? A part of the disease is caused when you lose a ton of brain cells over a long period of time. Also, you can develop this disease if you don’t receive or take enough vitamins and thyroid problems.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top major diseases being looked at and researched to this day. Some treatments would be medications, healthy diets, and keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, and daily exercise. Also, people could go to daycare programs, support groups, group homes, and effective management. Some medications work when patients are in the mid-stage of Alzheimer’s Disease, in which they slow down the process of memory loss for a short period of time and aggression(NIH 2013). Some places run different tests such as blood, urine, CT scan, and MRI scan of the brain, and genetic tests even though it may not be accurate. A CT scan for the brain is a form of x-ray, in which takes photographs of your brain and it’s different regions. The MRI scan of the brain photographs the nerve systems. Your blood and urine test just is used for clinical research for the disease. As of today, there isn’t any actual information that completely proves that genetics are linked to the disease. Research has shown that if you have a close family member with the disease you could possibly develop the disease. There have been a few medications that could potentially help the symptoms get better over time but there hasn’t been a cure nor vaccination to fight off the disease. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain and spinal cord disorders, diabetes, cancer, at least 58 diseases could potentially be cured through stem cell research, diseases that touch every family in America and in the world (DeLauro 2006). There are a few household things you could possibly give them to do to keep them busy such as vacuuming, going to check the mailbox, watering plants, helping you cook, and bake sweets. Some energizing activities could be playing board games, card games, puzzles, activity book with word searches, and maybe taking them to a zoo to see some animals.
On the occasion of working with people with Alzheimer’s some caregivers family or doctors may tend to have high-stress levels. Why? Because you may tell the patient to do something but they constantly do the opposite because they don’t function the way they used to and their brain is pretty much dying off. So there are a few things that you could do to help your stress levels. The few things that were listed were finding new relaxation techniques, finding time for yourself, taking care of yourself, and also find help or support from others. You can find relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation. A technique for finding yourself could be doing respite care, which is like finding a “babysitter” so you can receive some alone time. This technique, taking care of yourself is the most important because if you don’t eat, sleep, or exercise on an everyday basis how do you think you can care for someone who is a lot of work. The research stated, It’s not uncommon for caregivers to deal with fatigue, sadness, guilt, anger, and overall stress, and at the same time to feel as if they cannot take time away or do not deserve rest or respite, much less any activity they might enjoy. This conflicting set of physical issues and emotions can make it more and more difficult to function effectively as a caregiver (Calistoga Press). Often times people who have Alzheimer’s tend to be very aggressive and physical towards people. They do things such as cuss towards you as well as try to fight with you. Sometimes when their caregivers feel that they no longer can take care of the person they were caring for they move the person into a nursing home for professional help to care for them.
There are many different associations asking trying to seek donations for patients and also towards research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the biggest foundations in this country is the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, they were founded in 2002. The owner of this association stated, My goal is to make sure that no other family living with Alzheimer’s disease would have to go the journey alone (Bert E. Brodsky). Their mission is to try and find a cure to the overall disease as well as helping those who are currently suffering from it.
This actively illustrates that conducting the research to find a cure to many of the dementia diseases will end up saving many lives. As of today, there haven’t been any new studies stating that there is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in the future but medications have helped patients live a longer life. There isn’t anything that generally causes the disease but there are some things that may have a possible effect on you to develop the disease. This disease is slowly killing so many loved ones and a cure needs to be found, it’s the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Keep an eye out for any possible signs, so it can be detected early on.
- Beck, Melinda. “The Curse of a Diagnosis — Is Early Detection Useful If a Disease Has No Cure? An Alzheimer’s Dilemma.” Wall Street Journal, 2012, p. D.1.
- Hollingworth, Paul, et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges.” International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, vol. 26, no. 8, 2011, pp. 793–802.
- Husain, Masud. “Big Data: Could It Ever Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?” Brain, vol. 137, no. 10, 2014, pp. 2623–2624.
- The Discovery of Alzheimer’s Disease » Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.’ Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.