Name the most common risks factors for Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and the leading cause of death in those over 65. There are many risk factors for Alzheimer’s, including genetics, age and family history. History of cardiovascular disease or depression are also key factors. Many risk factors have been identified and somewhat understood, but research is still ongoing to find other risk factors that are unknown. The most significant risk factor are known as Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genes. The APOE-ε4 allele is a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, as it increases the memory-loss risk by up to four times. About 20% of the population has this gene variant (McDonough et al., 2020).
The ability to acquire vocabulary throughout life reduces the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Also, there is a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those who were born during the first two decades of the 20th century and had low birth weights. Similar to other common diseases and disorders, risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease vary by gender. There are no known gender-related differences with regard to cognitive function, but fewer women seem to develop dementia than men (McDonough et al., 2020).
Psychological factors (poor self-esteem) may significantly increase memory and thinking problems in those with Alzheimer’s disease. Psychological and social factors play a role not only in the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but also in a person’s ability to cope with it (McDonough et al., 2020). The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is also significantly increased by exposure to environmental toxins such as lead or pesticides. In addition, there is a link between these environmental toxins and learning disabilities in children. Stress has also been shown to be a significant contributor to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Name and describe the similarities and the differences between Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Frontotemporal dementia.
The four top-ranking categories of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. Basically, all types of dementias stem from different underlying causes. Yet there is a fair amount of overlap in the symptoms and cognitive decline that they cause. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (Maclin et al., 2019). It affects memory, communication and behavior. Other symptoms include difficulty with planning and problem-solving, personality changes and emotional difficulties. The disease also affects physical abilities such as walking, dressing and hygiene. Some people with Alzheimer’s may experience hallucinations or delusions.
The disease is named after Dr Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906 when he was a doctor at Frankfurt University Hospital in Germany.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. It occurs when there are blockages in blood vessels in the brain, usually due to long-term high blood pressure. There is a lack of oxygen and nutrients being supplied to the brain, which leads to a decline in mental abilities (Maclin et al., 2019). This can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease as it shares many symptoms, such as memory loss and mood changes. Some people with vascular dementia may have problems with movement or balance that might be mistaken for Parkinson’s disease.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common form of dementia. It has a higher incidence among older people, mainly over age 65, which is why it is sometimes called “old age” dementia. It occurs when proteins called Lewy bodies build up in the brain. The proteins disrupt nerve cells and cause them to malfunction and die. Dementia with Lewy bodies affects a person’s learning capabilities and memory, but not their ability to move around well or communicate clearly (Maclin et al., 2019).
Frontotemporal dementia is the second most common type of dementia that occurs at a younger age. This form of dementia affects a person’s behavior, personality and movement. Memory loss in frontotemporal disease tends to be milder and tends not to get worse with time, unlike Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. The frontal lobe is part of the brain involved in planning, reasoning, initiative and problem-solving.
Define and describe explicit and implicit memory.
Explicit memory is also known as declarative or semantic-episodic, which are memories that can be verbalized. On the other side of the spectrum, implicit or procedural memories occur without awareness and automatically. They are sometimes called “procedural-” or “body-knowledge”.
Explicit and implicit memory interact to form a cohesive whole. Evidence of these two types of memory working together to produce a performance is seen in skill acquisition. The acquisition of skills involves many different processes, as well as implicit memories (procedural memories). As an example, riding a bicycle incorporates many different processes that are stored implicitly in the brain (e.g., balance, coordination, spatial movement, etc.). To ride a bicycle well, this entire set of knowledge must be transferred to explicit memory (Kok et al., 2022).
“Alzheimer’s disease” is a disorder of “declarative” or explicit memory that develops over time. Alzheimer’s is accompanied by hyper-activity in other areas, such as the frontal lobe and medial temporal lobes. This indicates that there may also be deficits in implicit memory processes (e.g., procedural memory).
It is possible to tell if an individual has implicit or explicit memories. Implicit memories are more difficult to access than explicit memories. The accessibility of memory depends on the amount of attention at a time (Kok et al., 2022). “Traumatic” or “traumatic” memories cannot be accessed unless they receive enough attention, whereas “happy” or “happy” memories can be accessed even if they are unsustainable due to lack of attention (i.e., these types of memory are “implicit”).
Describe the diagnosis criteria developed for the Alzheimer’s disease by the National Institute of Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute of Aging each have a list of diagnostic criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. These lists are meant to provide a standard set of criteria that is easy to understand, but there is no single perfect set that would work for all cases (Frisoni et al., 2017).
A diagnosis should be considered provisional until the suspected diagnosis is confirmed by standard medical testing or laboratory tests such as amyloid imaging or cerebrospinal fluid examination.
Diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer disease should be confirmed either by neurologic examination, laboratory tests, or both. All diagnostic criteria rely on clinical observations made during evaluation of the patient and the accuracy of these observations can be impaired by various factors such as the patient’s inability to cooperate, changes related to normal aging or comorbid medical conditions (Frisoni et al., 2017).
The National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association criteria (NIA-AA) have been helpful in that they have become widely used. They cover most important cognitive, behavioral and neurological features of Alzheimer’s disease.
The NIA-AA criteria are flexible in that they allow a variety of clinical approaches to diagnosis, but they are rigid in that they describe fixed diagnostic features with clear evidence of impairment. For example, the criteria state that ancillary examinations such as neuroimaging or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers are not required for diagnosis but are helpful when available (Frisoni et al., 2017). The most notable feature of the NIA-AA criteria is that they require the presence of dementia. They require progressive loss in intellectual abilities (memory, language, orientation and judgment) with a final functional capacity that is dependent on environmental and other factors.
McDonough, I. M., Festini, S. B., & Wood, M. M. (2020). Risk for Alzheimer’s disease: A review of long-term episodic memory encoding and retrieval fMRI studies. Ageing Research Reviews, 62, 101133. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163720302683
Maclin, J. M. A., Wang, T., & Xiao, S. (2019). Biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia Lewy body, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia. General psychiatry, 32(1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6551430/
Kok, M., Nuij, J., Kal, E., & van der Kamp, J. (2022). Individual differences in working memory capacity and conscious processing do not explain explicit and implicit learning outcomes in physical education. Human Movement Science, 86, 103003. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167945722000835
Frisoni, G. B., Boccardi, M., Barkhof, F., Blennow, K., Cappa, S., Chiotis, K., … & Winblad, B. (2017). Strategic roadmap for an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease based on biomarkers. The Lancet Neurology, 16(8), 661-676. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S147444221730159X