Kevin Arnold, an actor from a TV series called The Wonder Years, once said, “Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never wish to lose.” Everyone forgets something at least once in their lives. But it always starts out with the smallest things. Forgetting where you left your keys. You forget the neighbor’s name. You forget your pin number for your debit card. It’s not hard to understand why you forget something. With billions of cells, thousands of connections and multiple chemical connectors, the brain is bound to misfire and a thought won’t be completely processed or thought out. Forgetting things is usually just an inconvenience. However, they can be red flags for more sever medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Recognizing changes, learning risk factors, and evaluating signs and indications are critical for understanding any memory loss. If reduced memory is impacting your everyday life, it is time to learn why.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is defined as a condition that causes abnormal deterioration in the brain mainly affecting memory and other mental abilities during middle or old age1 and is the most common type of dementia. The disease progresses from mild memory loss to extensive neurological impairment and ultimately death. “Patients with this devastating disorder of the limbic and association cortices lose their ability to encode new memories, first of trivial and then of important details of life.” 3 In other words, as the disease progresses, the changes of chemicals and structures gradually eliminate the ability to remember, learn, reason, generate complete thoughts and relate to others. Basically dementia attacks brain cells, nerves, and transmitter which then cause the brain to deteriorate and shrink. Most of the deterioration is observed in the temporal lobe and hippocampus. As the parts of the brain are destroyed, body systems fail and one’s personality is drastically lost.
Who develops Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is calculated to be the sixth largest cause of death in the United States.5 It kills more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.5 The risk of attaining the disease increases with age. Alzheimer’s affects people more frequently over the age of sixty, but a few cases have reported people younger that have been affected. It is estimated that more than five million American currently have Alzheimer’s in 2014 – approximately 200,00 of those individuals are under age 65.5 More than 500,000 seniors die each year because they have Alzheimer's. Projections show that the amount of people who have this form of dementia will escalate rapidly in the next decade or two as the baby boom generation grows older. Alzheimer's affects each individual in a different way, which is one of the reasons this disease is so complex to understand. Women account for almost two-thirds of the Alzheimer’s population,...