Understanding the Alzheimer’s effects on the brain - 24|7 Nursing Care

Understanding the Alzheimer’s effects on the brain

Imagine waking up one day and feeling disoriented for no apparent reason. You have no idea where you are. You get up and head to what appears to be a restroom. In the mirror, you see someone. You don’t know who that individual is or why he or she is staring at you. This makes you depressed and helpless.

Is this strange? This is what a person with advanced Alzheimer’s disease may have to go through.

A little bit of History 

On November 3, 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer reported a severe disease case regarding the cerebral cortex. The patient was a 50-year-old female patient with symptoms like memory loss, language problems, paranoia, and unpredictable behavior. When she passed away, Dr. Alzheimer examined the brain and noticed changes in the tissue. The brain had many abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of nerve fibers (neurofibrillary).

What physical changes occur to the brain with Alzheimer’s?

The healthy human brain contains tens of billions of specialized cells that process and transmits information via electrical and chemical signals.  Over time, our experiences create patterns in signals. These patterns of activity explain, how the brain codes thoughts, memories, and skills, and give a sense of personality.

Alzheimer’s disease behaves aggressively with the brain causing nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. Over time, the brain shrinks drastically, affecting many of its functions. However, surprisingly, the brain does not lose neurons in large numbers. 

Alzheimer’s Disease Stages

Early Alzheimer’s changes usually begin 20 years or more before diagnosis and 10 years before symptoms. At this stage, plaques and tangles begin to form in brain areas involved in learning, memory, thinking, and planning.

Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s stages generally last from 2 to 10 years. People usually get diagnosed in these stages. At this point, brain regions important for memory, thinking, and planning develops more plaques and tangles. This results in the development of memory loss or thinking. Symptoms interfere with work or/and social life as people get confused and have trouble handling money, expressing themselves, and organizing their ideas. 

 Severe Alzheimer’s stages may last from 1 to 5 years. At this point, most of the cortex is seriously damaged. The brain shrinks significantly due to cell death. Patients usually lose their ability to communicate and recognize family members. It is practically impossible to care for themselves.

 Early Alzheimer’s development can occur between a person’s 30s and mid-60s. However, this represents less than 10% of all people with Alzheimer’s. The symptoms of most people with Alzheimer’s become apparent in their mid-60s or later. After diagnosis, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can live for up to 20 years or more. 

Is Alzheimer’s preventable?

To this day, the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, so there is no way to prevent it, nor is there a cure for it either. However, diagnosis at the early stages is vital to receiving the right medication to ease the symptoms and give the patient a better quality of life. Early treatment might preserve daily functioning for a while and will allow families to plan for the future. 

Regardless of age, it is important to stay active, stop smoking, keep alcohol to a minimum intake, and eat healthily are actions you can take to reduce the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s. 

Other actions such as reading, learning languages, playing instruments, and being socially active can contribute to the good functioning of the brain. A healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease. 

There are plenty of options available for in-home care referrals for dementia patients. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about the options for your unique needs at 786-518-3622 Miami-Dade or 954-949-1332 Broward.

Our team is available to answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. At 24/7 Nursing Care, we believe that your family is our family.



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