A Scientific Glimpse Into Alzheimer's Disease

A Scientific Glimpse Into Alzheimer's Disease

The sixth-leading cause of death we cannot forget.
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June is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. So in honor of the month, take a minute to learn about the disease and its implications.

Everyone knows what Alzheimer's disease is. It's the chronic, tragic disappointment you see on a person's face, in reality or in the movies, when her loved one cannot remember their cherished memories together. For most of us, memory is a faculty of our brain that we take for granted. We rely on it everyday, from knowing the route to work to the name of that distant cousin at family parties to avoid awkwardness. Our memory has been there for us — except when we are trying to find our keys.


Alzheimer's disease is usually associated with a wrinkled face, gray hair and slow pace. Though the majority of Alzheimer's patients are 65 and older, Alzheimer's is not an expected part of growing old. Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time, and causes memory, thought and behavior deterioration. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and third amongst the elderly population. How is this disease persisting? What even IS Alzheimer's? Let me first clear up the common misconception that dementia is Alzheimer's disease.

Dementia is NOT Alzheimer's disease. According to the Alzheimer's association, dementia is "a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life." Alzheimer's disease is the most common FORM of dementia, accounting for 60-80 percent of dementia patients. The second most common form is vascular dementia, which usually occurs after a stroke. Another misconception is that dementia is "senility." But this implies that reduction in mental abilities is a normal part of aging.

To be considered to have dementia, at least two of the following symptoms must be greatly impaired: memory, communication, ability to focus, reasoning and judgement and perception. Though memory loss issues does not mean one has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it is best to get checked out by a doctor. The saying, "better safe than sorry" is pertinent in early detection for dementia as treatments will be available sooner.

What causes Alzheimer's disease? Let us delve into the category Alzheimer's fits in: neurodegenerative disorders. These are also called tauopathies, which share an accumulation of the hyperphosphorylated (fully saturated phosphorylated sites) form of a protein called tau in the affected neurons (brain cells) of patients.

In research I have done with Dr. Kuo at Michigan State University, we investigated different forms of the protein tau and compared the levels at which they aggregated through multiple procedures and experiments. Through the seven weeks of research, we confirmed that a couple of the forms of tau are contributors to the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles, which are found in patients with Alzheimer's disease and are thought to assist with cell death in the brain.

Cognitive decline can be better prevented through some simple adjustments to one's lifestyle. Doing cardiovascular workout, taking an educational class, maintaining proper health of the heart, taking preventative measures with safety (seatbelt, helmet, etc), eating a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep, taking care of mental health, being social and challenging the mind reduce the onset of brain function regression.

Forty-seven million people are suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia from all around the world. This means millions and billions of hearts are breaking and money is being spent because a loved one lost the ability to recognize and act the way he used to. Family members are acting as caregivers, spending more than $5,000 a year for someone with Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, as of now, the terrible truth is there is no cure. To help the Alzheimer's Association, spread awareness of the disease by sharing on social media, making a donation, advocating for Alzheimer's patients' families against Congress, walking for "Walk to End Alzheimer's," or more through this website. Let's not forget the lives neurodegenerative diseases have taken — make their lives unforgettable through awareness and a healthy lifestyle.

Cover Image Credit: Doc-Advice

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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How To Avoid Getting Sick Your  Freshman Year

It's going to take a little more than an apple a day.

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College is the prime time and place to catch a cold... or worse. Although, somehow I managed to crack the code to health and not get sick my whole first year of college. This is surprising considering I was living in the close (and very unsanitary) quarters of a dorm room.

1. Keep your diet somewhat healthy

https://picjumbo.com/healthy-fruits-and-vegetables/

I know how hard it is to eat healthy in college, especially on a low budget. But with the dining hall foods, you can at least include some vegetables and fruits into your everyday consumption. The vitamins in these foods will help keep your immune system up and it will be worth the effort.

2. Try to exercise a few times per week

https://picjumbo.com/fitness-girl-jogging-morning-run/

Even if you're just getting out of the dorm for a thirty minute walk, it will benefit your body. If you decide to up your routine from that, even better! The more endorphins, the more you will feel better inside and out.

3. Cut back on the drinking if you feel a cold coming on

https://pixabay.com/photos/glasses-toasting-cheers-alcohol-919071/

Surprisingly, many college students don't seem to know that alcohol lowers your immune system. Of course, for some people theres no way of avoiding drinking. But if you can at least give your body rest days, it will be extremely beneficial.

4. Invest in a dehumidifier for your dorm room

https://icdn2.digitaltrends.com/image/dehumidifier_hero_1-2-720x720.jpg

I believe this was a very big player in helping me not get sick. The dehumidifier helps reduce dust and other particles in the air. This will help not agitate your allergies and you will feel more clear headed.

5. Try not to share personal products

https://picjumbo.com/makeup-brushes/

Sharing things like towels, makeup, unwashed cups, etc. can all be causes of a sickness being passed around you and your friends. Of course sharing is caring, just make sure it's sanitary.

6. Be conscientious of who you kiss!

https://www.pexels.com/photo/love-people-kissing-romance-18397/

Make sure that your girlfriend, boyfriend, or "its complicated" person is not sick before you're getting cozy with them.

7. Drink lots of green tea!

https://libreshot.com/green-tea/

Personally, I credit green tea and its anti-oxidants for keeping the flu away and even getting rid of bugs that might be forming in your system. So if you feel like you might be developing a cold, chug that tea!

I know how annoying these tips may be. But I promise, if you implement at least a few it could reduce your chances of feeling horrible during midterms in the winter, and sneezing all over your finals in the fall.

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