ADD, ADHD, AD, CRS…..what disorder is in YOUR wallet?

I’ll bet I “gotcha” with that last one…..CRS…..didn’t I?

Those letters are on a favorite tee shirt that my husband wears when he’s out on the lawn tractor making crop circles here at the homestead.  “Can’t Rembember Shit!!….it applies perfectly to a man who constantly cannot find his glasses, keys, cell phone, some important piece of paper with a telephone number on it, socks that match…..need I go on?  Think about how often people joke when they forget something during the normal course of the day and say… “oh boy, I must be getting Old Timer’s disease” or some other clever quip.

Laugh now, get it out of your system and pray that you never end up wandering down Memory Lane, in search of……..???

The other letters bring definitions that are not a laughing matter.  Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and…..Alzheimer’s/Dementia.  At least the first two are treatable with a somewhat favorable long-term prognosis; any form of Dementia signals the beginning of the end for the afflicted individual.

This is going to get very clinical; grab a beverage of choice and read on…..

Until a Dementia patient dies and the family opts for an autopsy, there can be no definitive Alzheimer’s diagnosis, just a very educated and generalized guess on the part of physicians.  Autopsies will reveal the level of damage caused by Amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Plaques and tangles are found in the brains of people without Alzheimer’s but…it is the gross amounts of them that are significant in Alzheimer’s disease.

The role of Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles on the functioning of the brain is by no means fully understood. Most people with Alzheimer’s disease show evidence of both plaques and tangles, but a small number of people with Alzheimer’s only have plaques and some have only neurofibrillary tangles.

I know, this is information overload but…it’s important to know the horrific dynamics of this disease.
 
People with plaque only Alzheimer’s show a slower rate of deterioration during their lives. People with neurofibrillary tangles are more likely to be diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

What are Amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles you keep asking?

Allow me to share this explanation from …. Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain …

Amyloid plaques are one of the two brain abnormalities that define Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The other hallmark is neurofibrillary tangles. Technically, an individual may display all the behavioral and cognitive symptoms of AD, but if the brain does not contain the hallmark plaques and tangles, there is no diagnosis of AD. The appearance of amyloid plaques in the brain can proceed the behavioral symptoms by years.

Amyloid plaques are sticky buildup which accumulates outside nerve cells, or neurons. Amyloid is a protein that is normally found throughout the body. For reasons as yet unknown, in AD, the protein divides improperly, creating a form called beta amyloid which is toxic to neurons in the brain. No one really knows why beta amyloid is formed or why it causes cell death. One possibility is that it may break into fragments, releasing substances called free radicals that attack neurons. Another possibility is that beta amyloid forms tiny channels (holes) in neuron membranes, allowing influx of unlimited amounts of calcium. Although regulated amounts of calcium are necessary for normal neuronal function, too much can kill a neuron. However beta amyloid does its work, the result is that neurons begin to die. Plaques begin to form that consist of these degenerating neurons and clumps of the amyloid protein itself. The body cannot break these clumps down and dispose of them, so they accumulate in the brain.

Dementia itself is a collection of symptoms including memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions resulting from disease or trauma to the brain. These changes are not part of our normal aging and are severe enough to impact daily living, independence,  and relationships. 
Under this Dementia-related category there is:

  • Vascular Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Dementia
  • Lewy Body Disease
  • Pick’s Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Huntington’s Disease

Whatever the category, Dementia is a devastating impairment for the individual who suffers from the disease.  Those families who devote themselves to that person’s care find their lives challenged on a daily basis. For any Caregiver, it becomes a physical, emotional and financial drain, bringing your life to a standstill while your family member becomes your constant priority….. especially if their resources are limited.

But, but….there is plenty of help from the state and government, isn’t there?, you ask

That….is a very long and involved story for another day.

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