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Alzheimer’s Disease: How It Affects the Brain’s Memory Systems

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How Alzheimer's Affects the Brain's Memory Systems in Nashville, TN

Approximately 100 billion neurons transmit chemical and electrical signals back and forth so the many body systems can perform their functions. However, when Alzheimer’s strikes, communications go awry and cause the gradual development of cognitive and physical impairments. In the United States alone, there are more than five million adults living with varying stages of Alzheimer’s. In all cases, the memory center of the brain is typically the first area affected. 

Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s

As the human body ages, neurons often shrink, and free radicals cause premature cell aging. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol levels cause further issues. In time, seniors may experience memory issues and other cognitive disorders. However, when a senior has Alzheimer’s, the damage is more widespread and severe. 

If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Nashville seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to.

The Alzheimer’s Process

Several physiological processes occur that allow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A gene named TREM2 normally signals glial cells in the brain to remove excess amyloid proteins and other debris as a defense mechanism. An abnormality in the gene leads to an inability to alert glial cells, which then allows the proteins to accumulate between the neurons. The blockage interferes with communication. Microglia and astrocytes emit chemicals that cause inflammation and neuronal damage. Additionally, tau proteins accumulate within neurons, which inhibits the cells from getting oxygen and nutrients by destroying the microtubules. Tau proteins clump and form tangles causing internal destruction. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious health concern that can impact your loved one’s overall quality of life. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Nashville home care company you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.

Memory Loss Progression

Different regions of the brain receive and store information for later use. When Alzheimer’s develops in these areas, older adults have difficulty storing and retrieving the information. Alzheimer’s first affects the hippocampus, which lies in the temporal lobe. This area is responsible for learning and short-term memory and is known as episodic memory. Damage to the hippocampus inhibits the ability to remember something that happened within the last few minutes, hours, or days. However, seniors often remember events that took place years ago. 

The temporal lobes also contain the regions responsible for semantic memory. This type of memory involves learning and remembering facts such as the names of objects. When the disease affects this area, seniors with Alzheimer’s can no longer remember the names of everyday objects. 

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for working memory. This area regulates attention span, the ability to concentrate, and short-term memory. Here, the brain recognizes and stores the names of people along with their relationship. Other information stored here includes addresses, phone numbers, and the information needed to complete complex actions. 

Procedural memory takes place in the cerebellum. Here, individuals learn skills that become second nature in time. Examples of procedural memory include reading, crocheting, knitting, and riding a bike. For unknown reasons, this region of the brain is often affected during the later phase of the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult to seniors to manage daily tasks on their own. Whether your elderly loved one needs part-time assistance with basic household chores or you need a break from your caregiving duties, the Nashville respite care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. All of our respite care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts. If your senior loved one needs help managing the symptoms of a serious medical condition, call us at (615) 326-9849 today.