Alzheimer's Disease

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    To interact with a person who has moderate-stage Alzheimer's disease, keep these tips in mind:
    • Often people with dementia and Alzheimer's have trouble remembering names. Start conversations with an introduction such as, "Hi, Dad! It's your oldest son, Nathan. It's so good to see you!" If you have to reintroduce yourself mid-conversation, work in your name without embarrassing the person: "My friends are always telling me, ‘Nathan, you are the funniest guy at work!'"
    • A person with Alzheimer's disease may feel anxious because she's confused about who she's with, what's going on or where she is. So you don't startle her, approach her from the front and don't touch her until she knows you're there.
    • People with Alzheimer's disease feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by crowds. One-on-one conversations in areas without distracting movement or sound will be most effective.
    • If you're having trouble talking to Grandpa, keep in mind that he is likely to remember older memories rather than newer ones.
    • People with dementia and Alzheimer's are known for being repetitive, in part because telling a familiar story is comforting to them. It's natural to feel bored or annoyed when Aunt Sue tells the same story five times in a row. Remind yourself that this repetition makes her happy -- and it doesn't hurt you. You can steer the conversation to another topic by saying, "That reminds me…"
    • A loved one with Alzheimer's disease might not remember your name or times you've spent together, but he will appreciate hearing sincere compliments about himself. Even if a behavior is unnecessary, you can still say, "Thanks for checking the locks -- it makes me feel good to know that you're helping to keep us safe."
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    Here are some basic tips for interacting with a person who has early-stage Alzheimer's disease:
    • Don't be afraid. A person with early-stage Alzheimer's disease has an illness, but he's still the same person. Be yourself around him. If he has always complimented your smile or sense of humor, display those things!
    • Include him. Don't wait for Grandpa to feel comfortable enough to join the conversation or activity on his own. Ask him questions or give him a basic task to do.
    • Ask questions that can be answered with yes or no. They will be easier for your loved one to understand and respond to.
    • Offer a hint. People with early-stage Alzheimer's often forget words. When talking to someone who seems to be searching for a specific word or phrase, it's okay to suggest one, as long as you do so kindly. 
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    A Psychiatry, answered on behalf of
    In normal healthy aging, there is a good metabolism of glucose in the brain. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, there are decreases in metabolism. This occurs in the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe as a typical pattern called hypometabolism.
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    A Psychiatry, answered on behalf of
    In Alzheimer's disease, memory-important regions like the hippocampus degenerate. The hippocampus is the seahorse-shaped medial temporal lobe structure that’s deep in the brain. There are also brainstem nuclei that involve neurotransmitters, like acetylcholine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which start to disappear. As the brain starts to change or degenerate with the disease process, shrinkage begins, especially in memory areas like the medial temporal lobe.
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    A Psychiatry, answered on behalf of
    Plaques and tangles, which are considered the hallmark of the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease, are the accumulations of proteins. Plaques are extracellular beta-amyloid accumulations of protein. Tangles are inside the neurons -- they are the hyper-phosphorylated filaments of tau proteins.
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    A Psychiatry, answered on behalf of
    In 1906, a German neuropathologist and psychiatrist named Alois Alzheimer had a patient with a peculiar disease who initially presented with poor memory and some word-finding difficulties or language problems. The doctor continued to follow her, and over the years she became more and more confused and disoriented about things, and even started hallucinating. She was eventually placed in an institution, where she died. He called her condition presenile dementia, but his boss renamed the disorder after him. In any case, what Dr. Alzheimer did was analyze the brain and find plaques and tangles, which are now considered the hallmark of the pathology of the disease.
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    A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of
    The third stage of Alzheimer’s disease is having the full-blown disease. Memory is impaired, and over a period of about 10 years, it virtually disappears. Agitation and aggression are also common. In about 80% of cases, people become agitated, even physically or verbally abusive.

    There are also non-cognitive symptoms -- things that don’t relate to memory -- in the third stage of Alzheimer's disease. These include psychotic symptoms such as; delusions, which occur in about 20% of those affected; and depressive symptoms, which occur in about 40%. Depression may also be a very early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
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    A , Psychiatry, answered
    How are metals like iron, copper and zinc connected to Alzheimer's disease?

    The amyloid plaque bundles found in Alzheimer's disease, which destroy the brain cells, have been shown to contain traces of metals like iron, copper and zinc. Watch Neal Barnard, MD, explain how these metals get ingested and the damage they cause.


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    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia in older people in America. It is believed that damage to the brain begins 10 to 20 years before the onset of dementia. With that knowledge in mind, it is now thought that addressing the disease at its earliest stages is key to staving off dementia. "Ultimately it will be easier to protect a healthy brain rather than try to repair the brain once damage sets in," says Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Center on Aging.
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    A , Preventive Medicine, answered
    There has been enormous attention of late to the grim and genuinely frightening problem of Alzheimer’s disease. The problem is grim by its very nature -- there is little we contemplate with greater dread than the loss of our minds. The problem is frightening at the personal level because we feel vulnerable to this increasingly common condition we don’t know how to cure, and at the collective level, where estimates suggest it could cost the nation a trillion dollars annually by 2050. There is also the terrible burden on family members, who must face the high demands of care, compounded by the heart-wrenching loss of a loved one who is still there, yet already gone.