Sep 10, 2018 by Cindy Adkins
Great to see you back for part three of our four-part series on Alzheimer’s Disease. September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and in this third part, we will be taking a look at how Alzheimer’s does affect the brain and what goes on within our heads as the disease develops and progresses.
One of the most complex organs in the body, the brain is extremely powerful and responsible for the movements you make, how you understand speech, and much more. There are intricate details and features of the brain and today, our team of elder care specialists will be focusing on four main parts, which are affected by Alzheimer’s.
The brain is made up of blood vessels, but that is not all. In fact, the brain is made up of billions of little neurons that branch out in many directions to help carry signals to specific sections within the brain. Each brain signal is an electrical charge and it tells your brain the specific functions it needs to carry out.
Once a charge has been created, it will travel down the neurons until it reaches what is known as the synapses. This is the area where all the cells connect. Once received, the neurons let out a chemical called neurotransmitters, and these will carry the signal to other cells within the body. Alzheimer’s hits this area of the brain the hardest.
Healthy synapses and neurons in the brain are important and crucial for functioning. When Alzheimer’s disease starts to set in the brain, these areas are affected and the power within them starts to diminish. The reason behind this is because of plaques and tangles.
Plaques and tangles will generally form within the same pattern of development and progression, however, the rate at which the pattern forms will be different for everyone. Once these plaques and tangles have formed, they will disrupt the function of the brain by forcing the signals to different/unknown areas or not transfer the signals at all. As the neurons are not used, they deteriorate, start to rot, and eventually die. This is the part of Alzheimer’s that kills the brain.
The earliest stages of Alzheimer’s are when the plaques and tangles develop, and they start to affect the thinking, memories and learning within the individual. Changes in behavior, mood, and personality will go unnoticed for some time. It is not until, typically, the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s those symptoms will really start to appear.
Once the mid-stage of Alzheimer’s hits, the proteins that were formed earlier start to spread out to the areas of the brain that control the understanding of speech, speech itself, and spatial awareness. This is often the best time to get an elder care specialist involved in the care of your loved one. The final stages of Alzheimer’s are the worst, and this is when the brain’s cortex suffers the most. The brain can and often will shrink at this time due to the death of the neurons.
Elder Care, Alzheimer’s Disease, and You!
It is a difficult experience to watch as your loved one’s health deteriorates due to Alzheimer’s disease. In order to better understand the disease, its progression, and how to help your loved one, join us at our Walk To End Alzheimer’s event. You can bring awareness, learn more, walk, or donate.
Date: Sunday, September 16, 2018
Place: University of Puget Sound | 1500 North Warner St. Tacoma, WA 98416
Times: Registration at 11am | Ceremony at 12pm | Walk at 12:30pm
Our elder care team invites you to come back next week to read the fourth and last part of this four-part series.