Alzheimer's Disease Currently Affects Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2553 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease

One area of cognitive-behavioral research into the prevention of Alzheimer's involves the study of the link between leisure pursuits and dementia prevention. Specifically, investigators believe that activities such as chess, crosswords or reading that engage a person's cognitive abilities may have some ability to prevent the development of Alzheimer's. A study done in 2003 (Vergese et al.) examined the effects of various activities on cognitive functioning and their ability to prevent development of Alzheimer's. The leisure activities were broken down into two main categories; cognitively based ones, and physical activities. The cognitive activities examined were; reading, writing for pleasure, crossword puzzles, board games/cards, group discussions and playing instruments. The physical activities were; tennis/golf, swimming, cycling, dancing, group exercises, team games, walking, stair climbing, housework and babysitting. The findings suggested that "among cognitive activities, reading, playing board games, and playing musical instruments were associated with a lower risk of dementia. Dancing was the only physical activity associated with a lower risk of dementia." (Vergese et al., 2003). The common belief about the link between cognitive activities and their impact on later dementia is "you either use it or lose it." By this, it's meant that engaging the brain in some kind of stimulation appears to preserve its functioning better and longer. Risk of developing dementia is lower.

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In addition to the benefits of cognitive-behavioral approaches to the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, there is also a significant role for such approaches in the management of AD symptoms once the diagnosis has been made. Various alternative therapies that seem to have some effect on the progression of Alzheimer's include music therapy, aromatherapy, and watching videos of loved ones.

Term Paper on Alzheimer's Disease Currently Affects More Assignment

A wide variety of nonpharmacologic interventions have been studied, most often in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, for the treatment of behavioral disturbances in Alzheimer's disease. Such interventions have included music, videotapes of family members, audiotapes of the voices of caregivers, walking and light exercise, and sensory stimulation and relaxation. (Cummings, 2004).

Alzheimer's Disease is characterized by a variety of symptoms, causal theories, and patient demographic factors. As such, there are a wide range of treatment theories and approaches, with varying degrees of scientific evidence to support them. Since it is only within the last few decades that the magnitude of AD in society has become more clear, there is the need for much more scientifically valid research to be done.

Current approaches combine a variety of preventative and treatment methods, for the general public, as well as diagnosed AD patients suffering from mild to severe cognitive impairment. Cummings (2004) makes the point that Alzheimer's treatment should involve a multifaceted strategy.

Treatment of Alzheimer's disease includes five major components: neuroprotective strategies, cholinesterase inhibitors, nonpharmacologic interventions..., health maintenance activities, and an alliance between clinicians and family members...Treatment requires accurate diagnosis and increasingly is based on an understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease. (Cummings, 2004).

The neuroprotective strategies include the above-mentioned activities such as crosswords, and playing a musical instrument. They may also include dietary supplements such as antioxidants, or gingko biloba. Nonpharmacologic interventions include treatments for AD sequelae such as agitation and other behavioral problems, and may consist of music or art therapy.

To date there are only a few pharmaceuticals that are FDA approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Most of these are used to treat the mild to moderate dementia that typifies the early to mid stages of the disease.

Donepezil (trade name, Aricept) is a commonly used drug in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. ( This was FDA approved in 1996 for the treatment of dementia in mild to moderate Alzheimer cases. Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor. Cholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important in cognitive functioning. By inhibiting this enzyme, Donepezil allows the acetylcholine to last longer in the body. Despite promising clinical studies, Donepezil is only effective in about one third of the patients who take it. Rivastigmine is another acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that was approved in 1999, and selectively targets the brain-based acetylcholine functioning. Galantamine and Tacrine also inhibit the body's breakdown of acetylcholine, although Tacrine has serious hepatotoxic side effects. Memantine is also approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's.

Other classes of drugs that are being used to treat Alzheimer's disease include SRI's (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) used to treat depression. Risperidone is a drug used to treat psychotic side effects of AD, and benzodiazepines are used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Unfortunately, since Alzheimer's is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease with no known cure, treatment options usually focus on ameliorating particular symptoms that accompany AD. Although these drug treatments have some success, the symptoms of Alzheimer's are so varied and abundant and there are risks associated with over-prescribing medication to treat each one of a multitude of symptoms.

Appropriate treatment options for Alzheimer's are hindered by a lack of definitive knowledge about the causes of the disease. "Although the prevention of dementia has emerged as a major public health priority, there is a paucity of potential preventive strategies. Identifying protective factors is essential to the formulation of effective interventions for dementia." (Vergese, 2003).

Since the presentation of Alzheimer's is so varied, appropriate treatment responses include both biological and cognitive-behavioral approaches. Only with a multifaceted treatment approach can one hope to maximize prevention and treatment of this disease.


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Vergese, J., Lipton, R., Katz, M. et al. (2003). "Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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