Monday, August 26, 2013

What Happens to a Brain with Alzheimer's Disease?

This is an interesting article, too. When the stress of caring for someone with dementia symptoms, you need to remember that their brain isn't functioning. The cells not communicating with one another. Higher level thinking skills, memory, language, are slowly affected.

The type of symptoms depends upon the cause of the dementia, but they follow patterns.

The agitation, that is common with many patients, can be disconcerting. I've had clients yell and swear at me, and you have to realize that their inhibitions are reduced.

Amyloid plaques are found in the spaces between the brain’s nerve cells. They were first described by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Plaques consist of largely insoluble deposits of an apparently toxic protein peptide, or fragment, called beta-amyloid.

The brains of people with AD have an abundance of two abnormal structures—amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles—that are made of misfolded proteins (see “Protein Misfolding” for more information). This is especially true in certain regions of the brain that are important in memory.The third main feature of AD is the loss of connections between cells. This leads to diminished cell function and cell death.

The AD process not only inhibits communication between neurons but can also damage neurons to the point that they cannot function properly and eventually die. As neurons die throughout the brain, affected regions begin to shrink in a process called brain atrophy. By the final stage of AD, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

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