Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is defined as a chronic neurodegenerative that is associated with beta amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Beta amyloid is a deposit of protein fragments that build up between nerve cells, preventing them from creating new connections. The neurofibrillary tangles are the result of tau protein fibers getting twisted up inside cells. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia causing 60-80 percent of all cases. It is important to know that Alzheimer’s disease is not part of the normal aging process and worsens significantly with time. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and most drugs today focus on slowing the cognitive decline faced by those with the disease rather than improving one’s condition.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

“Let’s get to know what are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s”

Memory Loss

In patients with early onset Alzheimer’s, the inability to retain new information is an extremely common symptom. The inability to retain information is due Alzheimer’s initially changing the parts of the brain that handle learning. Forgetting appointments or names is a common occurrence.


Those suffering from Alzheimer’s typically have trouble reading or judging distance. Many tests for Alzheimer’s require the patient to draw a clock, which demonstrates their difficulty in this area.


Those with Alzheimer’s disease will struggle to find the correct word, even if they have previously used the word countless times, and often use a more limited vocabulary. They will occasionally refer to things by the incorrect name; for example, they will describe a glove as a hand shoe.

Mood Changes

There is often a shift in behavior from those with Alzheimer’s. They will often be confused, fearful, or anxious, especially when they are out of their comfort zone.

Poor Judgement

Decision making is greatly affected when someone has Alzheimer’s. They may have trouble handling money, and are very susceptible to scams that they otherwise would not have been. They may spend less time grooming and doing self care.

Task Completion

People with Alzheimer’s often find it difficult to complete routine tasks. This may include driving to familiar places, or remembering the words to a favorite song.

Tests for Alzheimer’s

There are several free online tests that measure cognitive performance.

1.)Montreal Cognitive assessment (MoCA) involves memory recall, clock drawing, number comprehension tasks, naming tasks with low-familiarity animals such as a camel, and a fluency task. Orientation to time and place is evaluated by asking the subject for the date and the city in which the test is occurring. MoCA is available in 46 different languages.

2.)Mini Cog test is an interactive test where the test giver asks the test taker a series of memory questions. The mini cog test has an 83% success rate and has been used in numerous lab studies.

3.)Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) was developed by the Wexner Medical Center. This test is designed to determine how well the brain is functioning. Four different versions are available.

Causes of Alzheimer’s

Physicians believe that Alzheimer’s disease is influenced by several factors including aging, genetics, environmental factors, as well as lifestyle. After the age of 65 the number of individuals with the disease doubles every five years. By the age of 85, one-third of all people have Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike the typical cells in our body, neurons live for a very long time and repair themselves regularly. As we age these connections become weaker and some die off. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid plaques (which are intended to aid in the repair of the neurons) clump up and cause the neuron to die off. As time progresses, more and more of these plaques can build up and cause brain atrophy. This is why aging plays a large role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

From a genetic standpoint, there is a single gene that strikes fear in many people, APOE4. It has become so infamous for its linkage to Alzheimer’s that if you get your DNA sequenced you can opt-out of learning if you have the gene. APOE4 is a risk-factor gene, meaning that receiving a copy does not guarantee that the person will develop Alzheimer’s disease at some point in their life, but it does increase the possibility. The normal version of the gene is known as APOE3 and plays a neutral role (neither increasing nor decreasing risk). According to Dr. Penny Dacks, “having one copy of E4 (E3/E4) can increase your risk by 2 to 3 times while two copies (E4/E4) can increase the risk by 12 times.”

Living a healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet, exercise, and social engagement have all been associated with people aging healthfully. It is important to keep the body and mind active as we age instead of allowing our bodies and brains to decline as we age.


There is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, there is a way to combat further decline. Some of the drugs used to combat the cognitive decline are Razadyne® (galantamine), Exelon® (rivastigmine), and Aricept® (donepezil). Alzheimer’s disease is treated as if it were multiple diseases, where some are treated with medications for memory, and others are treatments for behavioral changes.

Using the idea to treat Alzheimer’s disease with multiple forms of treatment, Dr. Dale Bredesen created his own protocol called ReCODE , on which some patients have seen promising signs of improved cognition.