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The Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Senior Brain

By Erik Gans, 8:00 am on

Unlike typical dementia that develops naturally as individuals age, Alzheimer’s disease is a specific disease process that targets the tissues of the brain. The presence of specific cerebral changes is the hallmark for a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. If you have an aging parent or loved one that has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or you are currently providing Fairfield Alzheimer’s care, learning how Alzheimer’s effects the brain can help you provide the highest level of care for your loved one.

Abnormal Structures

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s have been found to have an exceedingly large number of structures in the brain that are normally seen in smaller amounts in the aging population. Excessive amounts of plaques and tangles spread throughout the affected brain in a typical pattern that begins in the critical area where memory is controlled. The progression of the disease can be monitored by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning.

Plaques are a build-up of protein-like particles that wedge themselves in the gaps between nerve cells and cause a disruption in the electrical activity of the brain. Tangles are curled fibers that block cells and interrupt cerebral activity.

Neuron Destruction

Neurons are the brain’s cells and act as its communication highway. Alzheimer’s disease targets and destroys neurons and causes symptoms such as memory loss, disordered behavior and the inability to effectively process information.  This can often cause a senior to be unable to perform daily activities independently. For instance, a senior may require a Fairfield hourly caregiver or possibly a live-in caregiver to ensure safety when cooking meals, bathing, dressing and more.

Disruption of Synapses

Synapses are the microscopic spaces between neurons that act as junctions between communicating cells. Neurons interact by sending chemical signals to other parts of the brain called neurotransmitters. In Alzheimer’s, disruption is found at the synaptic junctions, and neurotransmitters become ineffective.

Tissue Impairment

A brain affected by the disease has a visually different appearance than a normal cerebrum. The disease process results in a progression of tissue destruction that causes the brain to shrink and darken. Cerebral changes may be present for up to 20 years before a diagnosis is made, and evidence of the disease becomes more apparent and predictable as it progresses.

Interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s care? Reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care in Farifield, CT. Call 203-955-1915 to speak to a friendly Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.