Interdisciplinary essay

Alzheimer’s can be extremely scary when you do not know what you are up against. This is why I chose this topic for my paper. This topic interests me because Alzheimer’s has only been discovered for about 100 years, and there is so much that is still unknown. Alzheimer’s affects me greatly because my grandmother has suffered from this disease for over ten years, and is now in the final stages. I remember when I was about nine or ten, my whole family went to my grandmother’s doctors office and the doctor explained what Alzheimer’s was, and how they were going to try and treat it. My grandmother had offered herself to be a guinea pig, so to speak. The doctors did many tests on her to try and learn if there would be any way they could find a cure or better treatment than they one they had now. Unfortunately, nothing new was found, but now my family knows to take precautions for it, and we have slowly learned how to aid my grandmother Alzheimer’s is a fairly recent discovery. It is is a memory disease- the disease affects the section of the brain that controls memory, behavior and language.
Figure 1. Parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease What I do know is that there are three medications that are Alzheimer’s specific (Aricept, Reminyl, and Exelon), and that they all come with very serious side effects. As for genetics, studies have shown that contracting Alzheimer’s is just like catching a cold - random. Heredity is very slim in being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but people can be tested at age fifty to see if they are at risk at all. My mom, for instance, is going to Yale-New Haven hospital fairly soon to test for a genetic line of her being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because her mother was an In the early stages, one forgets little things, but as it progresses you forget your grandchildren, your children’s names and even yourself. Alzheimer’s affects the elderly- mid to late 50’s is when the earliest signs can be detected. When Alzheimer’s progresses, one unfortunate outcome is that the patient becomes extremely hostile (my grandmother’s case is an exception here). Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease, although it kills very slowly. After choosing to study Alzheimer’s disease, I found the following questions: Why was it only discovered in the early 1900’s? Is there still no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease? What role do genetics play in Alzheimer’s? Will genetics be a possibility in the future? How has the media affected Alzheimer’s? What are the sociological effects of Alzheimer’s disease? What are the psychological effects of Alzheimer’s disease? What are the possible treatments and cures for The objectives I have concluded are: To explain the background and history of Alzheimer’s disease.To explore treatments and the reason there is no cure for the disease yet.To learn about the studies of genetics, and why scientists believe Alzheimer’s is not hereditary. To discover the possibility of genetics in the future of Alzheimer’s disease. To learn the possible treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s disease. To understand why patients have struggles with social interaction. To understand the psychological endeavors patients face.
History and Background of Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s Disease affects the brain; more specifically, the part of the brain that triggers memory and recognition. AD patients experience symptoms early in the disease such as forgetting directions, misplacing items, and losing train of thought quickly (Personal Experience). Eventually, AD deepens in the brain and affects personal aspects and control. Most, if not all AD patients forget their own names, the names of their children, grandchildren, etc. (Personal Experience). Because the memory is lost, the person with AD loses consciousness of personal space, motor control, and voluntary and involuntary actions (Personal Experience). The saddest part about Alzheimer’s is that because the disease attacks the brain, it is eventually fatal. What is hard for many people to cope with is that by the time they do die, they patient has no idea what is happening to them and cannot remember anything. What others do not understand is how deeply affective AD is in people, and those who do not have a loved one with AD cannot possibly understand how dreadful the disease is.
AD has been slowly aiding to elderly deaths for many years. The disease, founded by Alois Alzheimer (for whom the disease was named after) in 1907, was not found to be a major disease until the 1970’s (Reger). Alzheimer sought a case of a woman in her fifties who showed signs of lack of memory, social behavior and language, and after her death performed an autopsy on her brain to discover an abnormal amount of senile plaques - unusual formations in the presence of neurons - that caused the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (Reger). Before the discovery, “senility and dementia were still considered part of the aging process. AD did not become a common term, or even a large concern, until neurological research exploded in the late 1970s” (Reger). Although it was not a huge concern until decades later, once AD was starting to be recognized as a detrimental disease, researchers started to begin finding treatments for AD. AD develops very differently in different people. To properly diagnose and treat AD is very hard, and while a person is alive, it cannot be properly diagnosed. AD is a slow developing disease, which makes diagnosing it difficult (Reger). Though dementia itself is a form of memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a very specific form of dementia, and it takes great lengths for a doctor to properly diagnose any form of dementia, especially AD (Personal Experience). To obtain a correct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, doctors have to perform a special neurological biopsy on the brain throughout different stages of AD, which has been deemed unethical, therefore the only way doctors can positively diagnose AD is an autopsy after the patient has died (Reger). Though a multitude of studies have been conducted on thousands of AD patients, no cure has been proven efficient for the disease (Reger). For the time being, patients resort to medication to steady the onset of new symptoms and stabilizing the illness (Personal Experience). Researchers continue to study AD every day to find new methods of treatment and a possible cure, but so far they have been unsuccessful. Adult Children’s Anxieties with Alzheimer’s Disease Going through Alzheimer’s is tough being the patient, but almost comforting because you cannot remember what exactly is happening to you. Being the child of a parent with AD can pose many new questions about the disease. At the University of Illinois, a study was conducted about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on adult children.
One of the most important things adult children should realize is that they may well be the prominent caregivers for their parent. Found in one of the studies, “Adult children may face uncertainty related to their position because of the likely necessity to reverse roles with the parent. The current study examines the sources of uncertainty for adult children related to a parent’s diagnosis of possible Alzheimer’s disease” (Stone). Because the onset of the disease comes so fast, children barely have time to cope with what will happen in the future to their parents and how they will be able to care for them. In many instances, such as my own, children hire visiting nurses to help with their parent (Personal Experience). However, the uncertainty still arises about what is going to happen to their loved one. One of the questions that arises when a loved one is diagnosed is “could this have been prevented?” Studies have shown that it depends on what stage of Alzheimer’s the patient is in, and that genetics may play a large role in the outcome (Stone). Thus, children may develop anxieties about the future for their parents, and also a future for themselves. Because of this, they find many issues and anxieties that they would not normally think about. Medical, personal, and social issues arise in adult children and they experience an uncertainty in their lives that they need explanation in order for them to manage with what is happening (Stone). Once children find the right sources, such as talking to doctors, researching the disease, etc. they will be able to handle the fact that their loved on has Alzheimer’s and they can learn how to move forward in giving the appropriate care for them. The Media and it’s Effect on the Portrayal of Alzheimer’s Disease What most people know about AD are the basics: it affects elderly people from age 50 onward, and it is a disease that makes a person lose their memory (Personal Experience). Many people may not understand that they are extremely exposed to Alzheimer’s disease in their everyday life, regardless if they are living with a family member who is a patient. The media affects a countless number of people, and most of them do not even realize they have been affected. One of the most popular forms of gaining information through the media is through One movie that is very pivotal in young adults’ lives is The Notebook, directed by Nick Cassavetes. The movie, though about two young lovebirds in the 1950’s, shows the couple as elderly people in a retirement home throughout the movie. Toward the end of the movie, the main character Allie breaks through her forgetfulness and realizes that the man reading their life story is her husband, Noah. It is at this point the viewer understands that Allie has a very serious form of dementia, which has been named as Alzheimer’s disease in Nicholas Sparks’ book (Sparks wrote the book inspired for the movie). Because this is such a popular movie, the Alzheimer’s aspect of the movie has been “Hollywood-ized,” meaning that it gives Alzheimer’s a more glamorized outlook. I have learned this because I have so much experience with a grandmother with AD. In the movie, Hollywood first made Allie look stunning for a 70 year old woman. Her clothes matched perfectly, she looked well cleansed, and had makeup smeared all over her face. In actuality, AD patients forget how to match their clothes, forget how to shower, (therefore having a visiting nurse or regular nurse bathe them) and forget what makeup is, let alone put it on. The actual disease at some points in the movie seemed either over exaggerated or not explained enough. In the movie, the doctors inject Allie with a tranquilizer to settle her down. Normally, the doctors would not do this unless it were a dire emergency, which at this point it was not. Unfortunately, most AD patients do not have breakthroughs where they remember everything that has happened throughout there life. This gives many people false hope that something may happen to their loved one and they will remember them even for five minutes. The Notebook gives different characteristics to the portrayal of AD, which gives viewers a false representation of the disease. This is the media affecting the perception of AD on the everyday person. By watching this movie, people may think they know all they need to know about AD, when in essence, they have no idea what they are talking about. Though they have a general gist, they do not fully understand what happens to a patient with AD, and they are unprepared for what it actually is when a person they love is diagnosed with AD. Another film portrayal was a lesser known movie filmed in Canada entitled Away From Her, (directed by Sarah Polley) based on the short story featured in The New Yorker, called “The Bear Came Over The Mountain.” I read this story my senior year of high school, so when I found out that there was a movie based on the story, I was excited to see how parallel the two were. The story was quite an accurate description for a patient with Alzheimer’s; Fiona, the woman with Alzheimer’s, was described just as an Alzheimer’s patient would be, and her husband, Grant, put up with every inconvenience he faced during her illness. I watched the movie after rereading the story to see if there would be any difference between the two. Thankfully, the movie matched the story to a tee. Fiona was portrayed as a free- spirited woman who liked to ski and be with her husband Grant. In one early scene, Fiona and Grant were washing the dishes, and after Fiona had dried a pan, instead of placing it in the cupboard, she placed it in the freezer and walked off. In another scene, the whole kitchen was labeled with what was in which drawer, so Fiona would know where to put the dishes when she was finished with them. Though I was very young, I think my grandmother had done this at one point to remember where to put everything when she was done using something. What my grandmother does that Fiona did was during the scene when Fiona was at the doctor’s office, she got up right in the middle of the appointment and told her husband that it was time to go. She had no recognition of where she was, and that it was wrong to leave just then, which has been found During the middle of the movie, Fiona and Grant make the executive decision to move Fiona into a medical facility that caters to Alzheimer’s patients. They director tells Grant he is not allowed to visit Fiona for 30 days for fear that she would not adjust. After the 30 days, Grant goes to visit Fiona, but unfortunately, she does not recognize him at all, and instead thinks very highly of one of her friends she has made, Aubrey, as her husband. This continues throughout the movie, and it is very unfortunate for Grant as he copes with the stress of his wife’s disease. In many cases, the spouse of the patient starts to feel under pressure to make sure that their partner is comfortable, or is able to cope with what is happening in their mind. This movie portrayal is an excellent example of what happens to AD patients. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s is very clear, and when the viewer sees Fiona forgetting everything around her, they instantly know that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this movie is little known to American viewers (the movie was set in Canada) and therefore not popularized as one of Hollywood’s hallmark movies. For people interested in viewing the process of Alzheimer’s disease and seeing what happens to those affected by it, Away From Her is the perfect movie because each minute detail is exaggerated through Fiona’s movements, language and thoughts. This film is one way the media can positively affect the general population’s knowledge of Alzheimer’s without glamorizing the gritty details. Public Relations and Communicating Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s disease is one that many people know about. They know what AD is, and they know that it is potentially fatal, but people do not know how to respond to people with AD or where to go to learn about it. One way to raise awareness about the seriousness of Alzheimer’s is by going about it through Public Relations. One of the major ways to gain public access to a cause is to broadcast through television and cable. Recently, a Video News Release was produced to educate viewers on Alzheimer’s disease (Barton). The picked up 4.8 million viewers, meaning the stories were broadcasted to over 40 million people (Barton). By communicating the importance of Alzheimer’s through ways of communication that people are bound to listen to, awareness can be raised. Another way of awareness was a public service announcement that played on the DVD for Away From Her. At the beginning, the audience sees many of their favorite actors and actresses fighting for a way to make Alzheimer’s more treatable. Many of these celebrities, such as Peter Gallagher, have family members who suffer from Alzheimer’s and admit that Alzheimer’s has not raised enough awareness, so they are fighting to get the people to learn more about the disease and fight for a cure. It seems that when people see someone they idolize doing something good, something to cure a disease and raise awareness, they follow that. By getting these big celebrities to fight for a cure for Alzheimer’s, people will finally realize how horrible AD is and they will want to find out more about it. They will do their research and learn that there is so much doctors do not know, and this all happens because someone they look up to started it. The communication between celebrity and average joe is what aids the awareness. Psychological Effects on Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s disease, as many people know, affects the portion of the brain that controls memory. A person’s memory coincides with their psyche, therefore making a sizable parallel to Alzheimer’s disease and the psychological issues that stem from it. Many behavioral issues originate from simple symptoms. Waking up at night for no reason, and wandering the house at night are psychological issues that many AD patients have, though it is still unexplained (Konishi). Though this appears in individuals who are at a later stage in Alzheimer’s and their life, it has been found in Konishi’s study to be fairly frequent for most patients. Delirium, in later stages of Alzheimer’s where the affected person is relatively incoherent, is the most outstandingly common behavioral symptom (Konishi). In many cases, including my grandmothers, the Alzheimer’s has taken over so much of the patient’s brain that it causes them to have delusions and hallucinations (Personal Experience). Many times my grandmother will walk around her house talking to herself. More often though, we find her talking to people who are not there. She mainly references to small children, saying statements such as “Look, the little boy over there is doing something with the doo dee doo and the da dee da” and will walk over to where the “little boy” is and start talking to him like he is a friend. In this case, the hallucination is the little boy, and another psychological aspect is when she says “doo dee doo.” Because her memory is affected, she cannot remember words or what she wants to say, so she makes up words or noises to put in place of the missing phrases. Other forms of psychological problems come varied. Agitated depression was found to be a major behavior issue throughout most Alzheimer’s patients (Konishi). As the Alzheimer’s progresses into the brain, emotions become distorted for the person, and most of them end up becoming very hostile (Personal Experience). Hostility is a surprising form that Alzheimer’s takes. It is found that depending on the patient’s life before the diagnosis (i.e. if the person were very happy, abused, clinically depressed) that affects the hostility of the patient (Personal Experience). In my grandmother’s case, she was one of the sweetest, happiest ladies anyone had met. It makes sense now that she would be constantly happy and singing and dancing all around her house all hours of the day. For those people who feel they had a mediocre or unfulfilled life, they tend to be much more unfriendly as the disease progresses (Personal Experience).
In one study on the psychological behaviors of Alzheimer’s patients, researchers found that patients have personality traits that can be categorized into five groups: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness (Duberstein). Based on these five behaviors, researchers wanted to learn the different personality traits most Alzheimer’s patients experience. High neuroticism, low conscientiousness, and low openness were found to be the most influential personality traits of AD patients (Duberstein). This means that many patients suffer from being extremely neurotic (experience distress and anxiety) not too conscientious (capacity to plan ahead, and work steadfastly toward goals) and not very open (pursue emotions, ideas, art, fantasy, etc) (Duberstein). Because of these personality defects in Alzheimer’s patients, their psychological being is much different than that of a person without There are many different thoughts that run rampant in an Alzheimer’s patients head. They have so many psychological issues because their brain is a huge mess. Conversations that Alzheimer’s patients have with other people are very frequently incoherent because their brain cannot process what exactly they are trying to say (Personal Experience). These psychological standbys create friction between the patient and those with whom they are trying to communicate with, and if the person to whom they are speaking does not understand the background, many social issues may arise from this as well. Familial and Social Issues for Patients with Dementia As stated before, Alzheimer’s can create much confusion for children and loved ones. This creates many social issues for both the family and people around the patient, as well as the patient themselves. Their social lives begin to diminish as the disease worsens, because quite frankly they do not know how to interact with other people once the disease develops. Many families have trouble caring for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s. My family, for example, is one of them. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and my grandfather has Parkinson’s disease. Because of this, my grandfather cannot easily take care of my grandmother. My family is the closest to them and we live about a half and hour away. This makes it very tough on my mother when something goes wrong with them, so now they have a visiting nurse that comes three times a week to care for my grandparents. It was not very easy to find a nurse though. To help the state determine that they would benefit from the help, many social workers had to come in and make sure that the resources put in to my grandparents would be useful. Social workers, instead of caring for children mainly, have now found that they are learning to help with the needs of elderly clients more (Pinson). Professional care is now becoming more prevalent mainly for elderly families who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Although this is helpful, the family generally takes control of the care, including all expenses. “The expenses of professional caregiving or institutional care lead many families to opt to provide care for their loved one by themselves in the home” (Pinson). Because professional care becomes expensive, families tend to hold off until the last possible moment for getting the help they really should be getting To help raise awareness, and gain more assistance for people with Alzheimer’s, churches are trying their best to help Alzheimer’s patients keep a healthy social life (Pinson). As an example, my grandmother, regardless of her stage, always went (and still goes) to church. Though she does not understand what is actually going on, she hums and sings along with all the music, and the people make sure to fellowship with her after and they converse about nonsense. The fact that the church is doing what they can to still include her is heart warming, and it shows that the church in general is trying to extend awareness to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s Both church and caregiving can interlink with each other. “The use of volunteers, caregiver support teams, spousal support programs, multi-disciplinary teams, church-based older adult teams and educational resources are avail- able in some churches” (Pinson). By having an extra service of churchgoers, families can take a break from caregiving. The congregation helps the patient with caring for them, and by doing this they learn how to socially interact with them. By learning how to interact with the patient, it can help make the patient feel at ease with the person. One way of getting more social activities for the patient is by “organizing a volunteer schedule and matching active elderly or younger adults with frail elderly or caregivers can be an effective first step toward learning about—and meeting—the distinctive needs of this population” (Pinson). This way, others start to feel comfortable with Alzheimer’s patients and the can learn how to communicate with them, regardless of how incoherent they can be. Though Alzheimer’s patients do not react the same way normal people would when interacting with other people, they still have conversations and interact with others the way they normally would. It helps that families want to help give care to their loved ones. By doing this, they can still have social interactions with people that love them and will not judge them. This also helps the families because it is not costly, and they can still connect with their loved one, regardless of whatever state they are in. Though it gets very hard at some parts, the families are very beneficial to the patients. It is also beneficial for people unrelated to the family to help give care to the patient. Visiting nurses who are trained to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease can help the patient with medicines and major care taking when the family is unable to do so. They also provide outside interaction for the patient. The church functions also are very favorable for the patients. Social interaction with others can help stimulate the patient’s brain and also keeps aggression and anxiety to a minimum.
All these effects can eventually help into the possible treatment for Alzheimer’s. The social interaction can be considered a therapy that keeps the brain stimulated, therefore preserving the patient’s memory for as long as possible. Medicine, Treatments and Cures for Alzheimer’s.What are the Possibilities? Throughout the time Alzheimer’s has been known, researchers have been trying to find a cure for the disease. However, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s yet, though scientists are doing all the can to find one. In the beginning stages, there are medications a patient can take to prolong the onset of dementia. The three main prescriptions patients take are Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl. The purpose of these three drugs is “to prevent an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase from breaking down acetylcholine in the brain. Increased concentrations of acetylcholine lead to increased communication between the nerve cells that use acetylcholine as a chemical messenger, which may in turn temporarily improve or stabilize the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease” (“Drugs”). Although all of the medicines work in a similar manner, each has it’s own side effects depending on the individual (“Drugs”).
Aricept, also known as donepezil (Ringman) was the first of the medicines to be put on the market in the UK for Alzheimer’s disease (“Drugs”). Donepezil is also the most common drug to be prescribed to Alzheimer’s patients (Personal Experience). Donepezil has been the most researched treatment for Alzheimer’s, therefore aiding to fact that it is most prescribed and thought of when doctors think of medications (Ringman). Aricept has been found to work best on “mild-to-moderate AD patients” (Ringman). What Aricept is commonly known to help with is slowing down memory loss (Personal Experience). Most patients take it to help keep their memory, while it does more than just that. Other ways Aricept can help Alzheimer’s patients is by helping other mental issues that are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, such as attention and language abilities (Personal Experience). Though Aricept is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, it works exceptionally well in most cases by prolonging the patient’s memory.
Exelon, or rather rivastigmine (Ringman) is very similar to donepezil. As the second prescription to be considered safe to use in the UK, the effects are generally the same (“Drugs”). It has been licensed specifically for Alzheimer’s disease (“Drugs”). Exelon, though it has many benefits, has similar side effects as Aricept, except there are more effects and severe, including nausea, vomiting, and possible weight loss (Ringman). Reminyl, otherwise known as galantamine (Ringman), affects patients the same as the previous drugs. Reminyl is derived differently from Aricept and Exelon. The drug is “isolated from various plants and is a competitive and reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. It has been used in Europe and by anesthesiologists to help reverse paralysis and was approved for use in patients with AD in Austria prior to 1995” (Ringman). Reminyl, though probably the safest of the three drugs, is the least prescribed because of studies finding that it takes much longer to begin to work than any of the other drugs (Ringman). Though still very effective, it does not quite compare to the helpfulness of Aricept and Exelon.
Although Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl are the most popular and most used medicines to treat Alzheimer’s, there is another drug that can be added to each of these medications to further help prevent memory loss. Ebixa, the newest of the drugs (“Drugs”), also known as memantine (Ringman), is generally added to Aricept to help Alzheimer’s patients prevent more symptoms, because it has been found that combining Ebixa and Aricept is more helpful than just the Aricept because the benefits are much stronger (“Drugs”). Memantine was first used with Parkinson’s disease patients and other neurological conditions which caused researchers to test using the medicine on Alzheimer’s patients (Ringman). They found that, though it was not effective on its own, it could aid in the other drugs already manufactured (Ringman). Ebixa “protects brain cells by blocking the release of excess glutamate [a messenger chemical in the brain]” (“Drugs”). Though Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl are generally used for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s, Ebixa slows down the progression of symptoms and, combined with Aricept, can be used in moderate-to-severe patients (“Drugs”). No matter how much these drugs can help patients, they cannot cure Alzheimer’s. They can only prevent the symptoms and memory loss from becoming more prevalent in the patient’s brain. However, studies have shown that there is new research starting to come out with ways of preventing, curing, and detecting Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage in life. While it is a stretch, researchers are trying to perfect these drugs and have them licensed so that people may begin to During one study, researchers had administered all medications except any psychotropic medications throughout the six month study period (Hori). Though Hori does not specifically mention what medications were used during the study, it [the study] is being tested for psychological symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients. While not much is said about specific medications being used in this study, whatever the researchers used had a significant impact. The doctors were able to advise specific medications for patients depending on where their brains were cognitively (Hori). This is a step forward for Alzheimer’s research- now that researchers have found medications that can be used for psychological functioning in AD patients, as well as medications to help prolong memory loss, hopefully soon, more in-depth study of Alzheimer’s doctors can find a concrete cure or prevention for the disease. One of the most surprising pieces of information found when researching cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is the fact that there is a possibility for a vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease. Vaccination has now been found to be a therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s disease (Wisniewski). In model animal trials, a great success has been reported, and in the minimal amounts of study done on humans, it has been successful for the race as well (Wisniewski). The purpose of the vaccination, and the vaccination itself is “passive immunization consists of an injection of pre-prepared antibodies to patients, in contrast to active immunization, in which the immune system is stimulated to produce its own antibodies” (Wisniewski). This means that these antibodies are made to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Trials started in December 2007, and have had a huge success rate since then (Wisniewski). Though more studying needs to be done in this area, researchers hope this could be a new possibility of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s at this point in time. Finding a cure for Alzheimer’s entails a massive amount of research. Because heavy research only started in the 1970s, there has not been a concrete cure for Alzheimer’s. With the awareness Alzheimer’s is gaining, by the time the young generation reaches an elderly age, there will be preventions, treatments, and cures for Alzheimer’s disease. Biological Standpoints on Alzheimer’s Disease Biology is one of the main ways of studying Alzheimer’s disease. As a natural science, studies show the different variations of Alzheimer’s and the type of disease it actually is. Throughout my research, the term “vascular disease” came up multiple times. A vascular disease is one that affects the cardiovascular - or heart - system. I found this to be quite strange, because Alzheimer’s is a memory disease inside one’s brain. After looking deeper into this hypothesis, I soon understood why biologists would think of Alzheimer’s as a vascular disease. A study performed by Massimo Musicco and others was aimed at different factors, including vascular factors predict a decline in Alzheimer’s disease progression (Musicco). In this study, researchers wanted to see if any of these factors would increase the decline of memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. In the study, it was found that the disease progressed more slowly in Alzheimer’s patients with diabetes (which could be considered a vascular disease). When learning more about Alzheimer’s, and treatments, biologists can keep this insight in mind. In another study conducted by Didem Dede, these doctors also wanted to learn if Alzheimer’s was a vascular disease, and if so, how they could treat and prevent it from beginning. They found that endothelial function is impaired in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Dede). Endothelium is a thin layer of cells that line the interior of surface blood vessels therefore making endothelial function dependent on the amount of cells that are in the blood vessels (Dede). The reason these researchers wanted to study Alzheimer’s to see if it was a vascular disease was because it has been found in many disease that endothelial function is impaired, and the disease that cause endothelial function are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (Dede). They found that though there are many similarities between vascular diseases and Alzheimer’s, it is not to be considered a vascular disease. When comparing diseases to Alzheimer’s, biologists and researchers attempted to make a connection between Parkinson’s disease and AD. Because the two are neurodegenerative disease, researchers wanted to connect the two to see any correlation (Song). Parkinson’s patients develop mental dysfunctions throughout the disease, which closely relates to Alzheimer’s disease (Song). What researchers found was that although Parkinson’s disease patients could easily develop forms of dementia, and especially Alzheimer’s, the majority of Alzheimer’s patients would not develop any forms of Parkinson’s disease (Song). Alzheimer’s disease has many different angles that researchers find baffling in their discoveries. The possibility that AD may be a vascular disease, or any other sort of disease other than a cognitive one is mind boggling. Alzheimer’s is a tricky disease, and because something new is found all the time about it, it is hard to researchers to try and keep up with all the new If a Loved One has Alzheimer’s, What are the Chances of Family Members Contracting it? One of the scariest feelings is knowing that someone you love has Alzheimer’s. Many people worry about when their loved one will forget who they are, where they live, etc. What immediate family members start to worry about is their chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when they get older. Since studying Alzheimer’s became extremely prevalent, studying genetics and the possibility of Alzheimer’s being hereditary has become very frequent. In my family, my mother and uncle have been worried about the possibility of becoming diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because of my grandmother’s diagnosis. Yale-New Haven Hospital aided my grandmother in treatments, and my family found that they are conducting studies on immediate family members from Alzheimer’s patients to see if there is any correlation in genetics for people to contract Alzheimer’s disease. For this study, patients must have had their fiftieth birthday, and they make an appointment with Yale-New Haven to have this study performed. The results though are for researchers purposes only. Therefore, if my mother were to go to the test because her mother has Alzheimer’s, she would not find out if there was a chance she would contract the disease as well. The doctors my family has met with have said there is not a significant difference at this point in time about family becoming ill with Alzheimer’s because of heredity. The possibility of someone with a family member with AD being diagnosed with it is about less than 5% different from anyone who has not had a family In one study by Aaron McMurtray, researchers learned any genetic background for a possibility of Alzheimer’s. In this study, “investigators found a reduced familial risk for AD with later ages of onset of the disease” (McMurtray). This is good news for those with family members with AD- it is not entirely based on genetics. These studies were mainly included for first-degree relatives (FDRs). They are people directly descended from Alzheimer’s patients. It was found in this study that these FDRs would not generally become diagnosed with AD solely because they have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s (McMurtray). All of the information shows that genetics do not play a relatively large part in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Conclusion
Without the right information, anyone who does not know or understand Alzheimer’s disease can be easily misinformed. Alzheimer’s can affect anyone at any point in time, whether it be yourself, a family member or friend. The loss of one’s memory is detrimental, and the issues AD can cause can be tragic. When treated correctly, or diagnosed early, patients and family can prepare themselves through research. The media, reading about behaviors, and looking into possible treatments can greatly prevent everyone from not knowing what can happen to a loved one. With technology today and all the extensive research going on for Alzheimer’s research, in the near future investigators may well be able to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure Barton, Sally Ann. "Public Relations Plays Key Role In Launch of Alzheimer's Assays." Public Relations Quarterly 41.4 (1996): 33-35. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
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