I chose to research on Alzheimer’s disease because one night I was talking to my dad about my great grandmother who passed away when I was around 6 or 7. I was reminiscing on how she couldn’t eat so she had to have a tube going to her stomach and how she had nurses at her house at all times. My sister then asked my dad if my lola Elsing remembered him. He said that she did, but towards the end she started to forget him and his siblings. When he said this I was honestly so scared because I could see that his eyes were tearing up. That was when I decided that I wanted this to be the topic of my Health Buzz. I already knew that getting Alzheimer’s had something to do with genetics so I immediately thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is the perfect topic!’
After I had decided on my topic, my first challenge was to learn how to spell it. This took a few tries (Alzymers, Alzhiemers, etc.) but I got it down eventually. When I finally knew how to do that, I got straight to work.
At the start of the process of getting Alzheimer’s, abnormal amounts of proteins are deposited, forming amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. This causes previously healthy neurons to stop functioning, loose connection with others and die. The damage is mostly focused on the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that is essential in making memories. As more neurons die, more parts of the brain are affected and they begin to shrink. At the last stage of Alzheimer’s, the damage is widespread and the brain tissue has shrunk noticeably.
Healthy brain vs. person with Alzheimer’s brain
Since this has such a huge impact on your hippocampus, you start to forget how to do simple things like how to eat. When I found out about this, realization dawned upon me and I put two and two. This is why my lola had to get her food from a tube that connects to her stomach. This is the reason that Alzheimer’s is the 3rd leading cause of death in America, after heart disease and cancer.
And then I was wondering about how it was caused. I looked at numerous websites, but all of them said that the cause is unknown. Scientists just know that Alzheimer’s usually occurs when people are of old age. They have also found that people with Alzheimer’s have abnormal amounts of protein, fiber and a chemical called acetylcholine in their brains. There are also a few risk genes implicated in Alzheimer’s. The one with the strongest influence is called apolipoprotein. Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, they are passed on from family members. It was at this point where I was thinking: Well then, I’m screwed.
I used to think that Alzheimer’s Disease was just you losing your memory–something like amnesia. I now know for a fact that it is not like Amnesia and is a lot worse. With Amnesia, you forget things that happened to you in the past but you don’t forget how to do things that are essential for you to live. With Alzheimer’s, you forget how to do things like eat and have normal sleeping patterns. I now know that it is a lot worse than I thought and that people with Alzheimer’s really have it hard.
By the way, if you couldn’t tell, it’s spelled A-L-Z-H-E-I-M-E-R apostrophe S.