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What Organs Does Alzheimer’s Affect

How Does Alzheimers Affect The Body And How Does Memory Care Help

What is dementia? Alzheimer’s Research UK

Chances are youre familiar with the devastating symptoms of Alzheimers disease and how it affects your brain.

Its also very common. Alzheimers disease affects more than 5 million Americans who are over the age of 65, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Its statistics like this that demonstrate how important it is to provide special activities and exercises in memory care.

While most Americans are aware of the memory issues and impaired thinking that come with Alzheimers, are you aware that it can affect other systems in your body?

Well take a look at these effects and how assisted living with memory care in Wilmington can help your loved one who may be experiencing these symptoms.

Sexual Differences In Incidence

Some studies have reported a higher risk of AD in women than in men other studies, however, including the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study, found no difference in risk between men and women. Almost two thirds of Americans with AD are women. Among AD patients overall, any sexual disparity may simply reflect womens higher life expectancy. Among those who are heterozygous for the APOE E4 allele, however, Payami et al found a twofold increased risk in women.

How Dementia Affects Concentration Planning And Organisation

The person with dementia may develop increasing difficulties with other mental abilities, such as concentrating, planning and organising. For instance, they may only be able to carry out simple activities, or not be able to concentrate for too long.

They may be increasingly disorientated and have difficulties recognising where they are. They may have a limited understanding of time.

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Creating A Beneficial Environment For People With Dementia

People with dementia can benefit from an environment that is the following:

  • Safe: Extra safety measures are usually needed. For example, large signs can be posted as safety reminders , or timers can be installed on stoves or electrical equipment. Hiding car keys may help prevent accidents and placing detectors on doors may help prevent wandering. If wandering is a problem, an identification bracelet or necklace is helpful.

  • Familiar: People with dementia usually function best in familiar surroundings. Moving to a new home or city, rearranging furniture, or even repainting can be disruptive.

  • Stable: Establishing a regular routine for bathing, eating, sleeping, and other activities can give people with dementia a sense of stability. Regular contact with the same people can also help.

  • Planned to help with orientation: A large daily calendar, a clock with large numbers, a radio, well-lit rooms, and a night-light can help with orientation. Also, family members or caregivers can make frequent comments that remind people with dementia of where they are and what is going on.

It Affects Your Neuromuscular System

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You will have a hard time using your muscles properly, especially in the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Many people lose their ability to walk, while others find it difficult to sit in a chair with a proper posture. Your muscles will become increasingly very rigid because of the decline of neuromuscular system control, which makes you more prone to muscular injuries.

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Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers disease typically starts slowly and the symptoms can be very subtle in the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more noticeable and interfere with daily life. The disease affects each person differently and the symptoms vary.Common symptoms include:

  • persistent and frequent memory loss, especially of recent events
  • vagueness in everyday conversation
  • being less able to plan, problem-solve, organise and think logically
  • language difficulties such as finding the right word and understanding conversations
  • apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
  • taking longer to do routine tasks
  • becoming disoriented, even in well-known places
  • inability to process questions and instructions
  • deterioration of social skills
  • emotional unpredictability
  • changes in behaviour, personality and mood.

Symptoms vary as the disease progresses and different areas of the brain are affected. A persons abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, and can become worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill health.The stages of Alzheimers disease progress from mild Alzheimers disease to moderate Alzheimers disease and then severe Alzheimers disease. During severe Alzheimers disease, people need continuous care. The rate of progression between these stages differs between people.

Perception Is More Than Sensing

Alzheimers affects perception because the disease slowly destroys the parts of the brain that are responsible for converting sensory input into meaningful information.

Technically, the eyes do not see the ears do not hear. Our sense organs are just mechanisms that collect stimuli from the environment. It is the brain that sees and hears. It is the brain that tastes the food we eat, and smells the blossoms on the cherry tree. Sense impressions are useless until they are processed by the brain and become perceptions.

Our brain ties all of this information that is bombarding us from outside together into a meaningful bundle of information. It does this according to a set of rules. Some rules are hard wired, and have been programmed into the brain over millennia of biological development. Others are learned, or based on experience. These learned rules may only apply at an individual level. But all of these rules that control perception depend on the different parts of the brain, and the neural connections within and between those parts.

The third line in this illustration is not meant to represent the way a person with dementia actually perceives a line of text. It probably is not. It is meant to make a distinction between a visual and a perceptual problem.

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Later In Alzheimer Disease

As Alzheimer disease progresses, people have trouble remembering events in the past. They start to forget the names of friends and relatives. They may require help with eating, dressing, bathing, and going to the toilet. All sense of time and place is lost: People with Alzheimer disease may even get lost on their way to the bathroom at home. Their increasing confusion puts them at risk of wandering and falling.

Disruptive or inappropriate behavior, such as wandering, agitation, irritability, hostility, and physical aggression, is common.

Information from the above sources can usually help doctors rule out delirium as the cause of symptoms dysfunctionâthe inability to acquire, retain, and use knowledge normally. Although delirium and dementia may occur together… read more ). Doing so is essential because delirium, unlike dementia, can often be reversed if promptly treated. Differences between the two include the following:

  • Dementia affects mainly memory, and delirium affects mainly attention.

  • Dementia typically begins gradually and has no definite beginning point. Delirium begins suddenly and often has a definite beginning point.

The Basics Of Alzheimers Disease

How does the brain work?

Scientists are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimers disease. Advances in brain imaging techniques allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimers symptoms appear. Findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimers and make diagnosis easier.

One of the great mysteries of Alzheimers disease is why it largely affects older adults. Research on normal brain aging is exploring this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and affect other types of brain cells to contribute to Alzheimers damage. These age-related changes include atrophy of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, blood vessel damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction .

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Dementia With Lewy Bodies

The brain of a person with dementia with Lewy bodies often shows less overall shrinkage than the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s or FTD. Instead, tiny deposits of protein are seen in the cerebral cortex, limbic system and brain stem.

In DLB, early damage is seen in the visual pathways and – in some studies – also in the frontal lobes. This may explain why problems with vision and attention are common early symptoms of DLB.

Similarly, Lewy bodies in the brain stem may be linked to the problems with movement, as also seen in Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia Connect support line

Key Biological Processes In The Brain

Most neurons have three basic parts: a cell body, multiple dendrites, and an axon.

  • The cell body contains the nucleus, which houses the genetic blueprint that directs and regulates the cells activities.
  • Dendrites are branch-like structures that extend from the cell body and collect information from other neurons.
  • The axon is a cable-like structure at the end of the cell body opposite the dendrites and transmits messages to other neurons.

The function and survival of neurons depend on several key biological processes:

Neurons are a major player in the central nervous system, but other cell types are also key to healthy brain function. In fact, glial cells are by far the most numerous cells in the brain, outnumbering neurons by about 10 to 1. These cells, which come in various formssuch as microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytessurround and support the function and healthy of neurons. For example, microglia protect neurons from physical and chemical damage and are responsible for clearing foreign substances and cellular debris from the brain. To carry out these functions, glial cells often collaborate with blood vessels in the brain. Together, glial and blood vessel cells regulate the delicate balance within the brain to ensure that it functions at its best.

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What This Means For Patients And Families

This study will be integral in helping those suffering with Alzheimers disease. Because amyloid beta deposits can develop in the heart, it is important that the families and healthcare providers of people with Alzheimers be on the lookout for signs of heart disease.

There is still no cure for Alzheimers. However, there have been many advancements in treatment for the disease that have allowed people with Alzheimers to live longer than previously expected when first diagnosed. This is great news, but it does mean that there is a higher chance they may develop heart problems along the way due to their disease. Thanks to this new research, however, patients suffering from Alzheimers can now better avoid potential cardiovascular issues in the future by being aware of the high risk and monitoring their health closely.

Tangles And Cell Death

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In normal brain tissue, a protein called tau stabilizes microtubules. Microtubules are key parts of cell structure.

In a diseased brain, protein strands, or threads, become tangled. As a result, the brain system of transporting cell nutrients along parallel structures which can be compared to railroad tracks falls apart.

Without these critical nutrients, brain cells die.

Memory and thinking depend on the transmission of signals across 100 billion neurons in the brain.

AD interferes with this cell signal transmission. It also affects the activity of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

The scrambled chemistry produces flawed signaling, so the brains messages are lost. This impacts the ability to learn, remember, and communicate.

Microglia are a type of cell that initiate immune responses in the brain and spinal cord. When AD is present, microglia interpret the beta-amyloid plaque as cell injury.

The microglia go into overdrive, stimulating inflammation that further damages brain cells.

Some AD research focuses on how this inflammatory response can be reduced or controlled.

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How Does Alzheimers Affect The Brain

A healthy brain contains billions of neurons, which are specialized cells that process and transmit information between different parts of the brain to the muscles and organs of the body via electrical and chemical signals . Alzheimers disease disrupts this communication. This ultimately results in loss of function and cell death.

The brain typically shrinks to some degree as a person ages, but it doesnt actually lose neurons in large numbers. In Alzheimers disease the damage is larger. Neurons stop functioning and lose connection with other neurons affecting communication.

It first starts with destroying neurons that are involved in memory and eventually affects areas in the brain responsible for language, reasoning and social behavior. Overtime, a person may lose his or her ability to live and function independently.

People with Alzheimers may also experience vascular problems that may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This results in inflammation which adds further vascular problems.

Find Out More About The Diseases That Cause Dementia

Our about dementia information pages are a good place to start to find out more. You can get an overview of the different diseases that cause dementia, more information about the symptoms associated with these diseases and treatments that are currently available.

If you have further questions about dementia or want to know more about dementia research and how you and your loved ones can get involved, our Dementia Research Infoline can help. Call us on 0300 111 5 111 or email us at

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Stages Of Alzheimers Disease

People with Alzheimers disease differ in the patterns of problems they experience and in the speed with which their abilities deteriorate. Their abilities may change from day to day, or even within the same day. What is certain is that the persons abilities will deteriorate sometimes rapidly over a few months, sometimes more slowly, over a number of years.Some of the features of Alzheimers disease are classified into three stages. It is important to remember that not all of these features will be present in every person, nor will every person go through every stage. But these stages are still a useful description of the progression of Alzheimers disease.At all stages of Alzheimers disease, treatments and support services are available. Use these to make sure of the best possible quality of life for everyone affected by Alzheimers disease.

How Does Alzheimers Disease Affect The Brain

The Childhood Alzheimers Disease

The brain typically shrinks to some degree in healthy aging but, surprisingly, does not lose neurons in large numbers. In Alzheimers disease, however, damage is widespread, as many neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die. Alzheimers disrupts processes vital to neurons and their networks, including communication, metabolism, and repair.

At first, Alzheimers disease typically destroys neurons and their connections in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behavior. Eventually, many other areas of the brain are damaged. Over time, a person with Alzheimers gradually loses his or her ability to live and function independently. Ultimately, the disease is fatal.

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What Part Of The Brain Does Alzheimers Affect

Alzheimers disease is a progressive disorder that starts and develops gradually in older people. As it progresses, the brain undergoes several changes, affecting memory, language, and thinking skills.

Brain shrinkage to a certain extent is normal in healthy aging but, surprisingly, the neurons are not lost in substantial numbers. In Alzheimers, however, the brain shrinks significantly due to extensive damage and neuron loss. The neurons lose the connections between them, stop functioning, and die since the disease obstructs their critical processes, including communication, metabolism, and repair.

Take Part In Dementia Research

There are many dementia research projects and clinical trials going on around the world, many of which are based in the UK.

If you have a dementia diagnosis or are worried about memory problems, you can help scientists understand more about it, and develop possible treatments, by taking part in research.

Carers can also take part, as there are studies into the best ways to care for someone with a dementia diagnosis.

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Loss Of Neuronal Connections And Cell Death

In Alzheimers disease, as neurons are injured and die throughout the brain, connections between networks of neurons may break down, and many brain regions begin to shrink. By the final stages of Alzheimers, this processcalled brain atrophyis widespread, causing significant loss of brain volume.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.

Symptomatic Phase Of Disease Progression From Early To Late Brain Organ Failure

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Once neurodegeneration begins, there is variable, yet inexorable, progression towards symptomatology that is clinically recognized as abnormal. Within the brain, this is attributed to ongoing neuronal and synaptic loss, spread of tau pathology, and alterations in the cellular function of non-neuronal cells . As this pathology advances, so do the symptoms. Subjective memory complaints may be a very early sign of something wrong, but have indeterminate predictive value. Often the spouse or caregiver notes the individual has shown some cognitive alterations for years before presenting to a clinician. Consistent or increasing concern about cognition may lead to clinical assessments and diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment . An individual with MCI often complains of forgetfulness, losing their train of thought, having difficulty with decision making and having trouble navigating their environment. A spouse or caregiver may report that they are more impulsive and showing poor judgment. Signs and symptom of depression, irritability, anxiety, and apathy may also be present. Of note, not all individuals with MCI, as diagnosed solely by clinical criteria, progress to dementia. However, semantic memory deficits in MCI are highly predictive of a future dementia. Further, MCI with biomarker evidence for amyloid deposition is also highly predictive of future AD .

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Study Shows Link Between Alzheimers And Heart Disease

Recently, researchers discovered that Alzheimers is caused by amyloid beta proteins building up in the spaces between brain cells. While this causes noticeable symptoms in the brain first, this same protein plaque can build up around the heart.

This was discovered in a study that examined 22 patients with Alzheimers and 35 patients without, all of whom were 78 or 79 years old. The goal was to analyze the stiffness present in the hearts left ventricle the thickest chamber of the heart responsible for transporting blood throughout the body.

During the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers discovered that those with Alzheimers had a thicker left ventricle than those without Alzheimers. This thickness was caused by the same plaque protein buildup that was building in the Alzheimers patients brains. The thickness can lead to various cardiovascular issues if and when the left ventricle becomes too thick to successfully pump blood through the body. As a result, this puts Alzheimers patients at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.


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