Monday, February 1, 2010

The twilight years

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Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are two devastating brain disorders that affect the elderly. Cause are unknown. Cures have yet to be found.

As we grow older, our brains shrink and lose about 10percent of their weight. Although intellectual capacity need not decline with age, loss of nerve calls over the years does result in the slowdown of brain activity. The ability to memorize and learn new skills is reduced. There may lapses in short term memory. Reflexes become slower. These are normal parts of aging, and do not in any way indicate a brain disease.

There are millions of aging men and women around the world, however, who suffer from degenerative brain disorders, the most common of which are Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. While both diseases are thought to be the results of a breakdown in nerve cells, scientist have yet to discover what exactly causes the breakdown. While it is important to accept the realities that go with aging, it is also crucial that we are aware of the difference and symptoms of certain diseases. Some people, for instance, equate memory loss with disease. Others on the other hands, accept tremor or senility as inevitable parts of aging. While loss of function caused by brain cell destruction can be very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse, early detection of brain diseases can help slow down the debilitating effects of such diseases and can make a big difference in the equality of life of both the patient and his family.
Alzheimer's disease is the fourth leading cause of death among American adults after heart disease, cancer and stroke. Eventually victims need 24 hour care and usually live eight to ten years after diagnosis. Alzheimer's just one form of dementia or mind depriving illness. Depending it causes, dementia may either primary or secondary. primary dementia is caused by pathological changes in the brain cells or cerebral vessels.

On the other hand, secondary dementia is usually follows diseases like brain injuries that can lead to subdural hematoma ( accumulation of blood in the skull).

During the early stages of the disease, the patient loses his memory and concentration. In latter stages, he experiences biological depression. Because of the chemical imbalances in the brain, the patients begins to have emotional disturbances.
Those afflicted with Alzheimer diseases are observed to exhibit a gradual loss of memory, learning, attention, and judgment, a disorientation in both time and space, communication deficiencies, and changes personality. The definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is only through autopsy. The brain is cut and you see the plaques and tangles brought about by the protein deposits in the brain.

2 comments: said...

I did take care of patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. It's a very difficult task, you need a lot of patience and understanding.

David DeWall said...

I had no idea Alzheimer's is fourth leading cause of death in American adults. My Filipina wife, as an OFW, cared for a lady in Taiwan with Alzheimer's. Very difficult, but my wife is a patient lady.

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