Anda di halaman 1dari 5

The number of Americans with Alzheimers disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in the coming years

as the baby boom generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimers disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million.

-Alzheimers Association

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. -Anonymous
The Science behind Alzheimers and Dementia
Alzheimers and Dementia are two steadfast mental illnesses growing in the elderly population (Krucik). Did you know that 1 in 3 senior dies with Alzheimers or another Dementia annually? So, why are the numbers continuously growing and what is the cause behind both illnesses? Well, scientists have identified several Alzheimers/Dementia brain abnormalities including, tangles (twisted microscopic strands of the protein tau), loss of connections among brain cells (responsible for communication, learning, and memory. These synapses transmit information from cell to cell), plaques (microscopic clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid peptide) inflammation (resulting in the brains effort to fend off lethal effects) eventual death of brain cells and severe tissue shrinkage (Krucik). All of these processes contribute tremendously to how the brain functions, and over time, the brain begins to shrink dramatically, affecting its primary function. According to Alzheimers Association, there are not a lot of risk factors involved in attaining Alzheimers. The few include, age, family history, and genetics. As someone ages, the likelihood of developing Alzheimers doubles about every five years after age 65 (Alzheimers Association). As far as family, the risk of Alzheimers increases if more than one family member has had the illness. Genetics are commonly known to be linked with either Alzheimers and/or Dementia. Scientists have studied two different types of genes, risk genes and deterministic genes. Risk genes are known to increase the likelihood of Alzheimers, but they dont guarantee it will happen. The risk gene with the strongest influence is Apo lipoprotein E-e4. Everyone receives a copy of some form of the Apo lipoprotein. They say that those who inherit the APOEe4 from their parent have an increased risk of Alzheimers (Krucik). Overall, scientists are still researching because theyre not exactly sure how the APOE-e4 may increase the risk. Deterministic genes are known to directly cause a disease assuring that anyone who inherits them will develop the disorder. There is evidence that scientists have revealed three proteins that are involved in causing Alzheimers. The three are, presenilin-1 (PS-1), amyloid precursor protein (APP), and presenilin-2 (PS-2). When these deterministic genes cause Alzheimers disease, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.


1. Science between both Alzheimers and Dementia 2. Personal interviews with residents at The Pines who have either Dementia/Alzheimers 3. Cookie Decorating activity with individuals at The Pines 4. How self-identity changes when living with Alzheimers/Dementia

Personal Interview with Dana Jackson:

By: Rachel Burch Mrs. Jackson is a resident living with a mild case of Alzheimers at the Pines at Davidson, a community nursing home. While volunteering, I sat with her and asked her questions regarding her life, hoping she may or may not remember. During the interview she was very perceptive and answered the questions accordingly.
Q: Where are you from Mrs. Dana? A: Im from the mountains near Boone. Q: Where in the mountains are you from? A: Hmm Im not quite sure, its been a long time. When I asked her these first two questions, she knew that she was from the mountains, but she didnt have any recollection of where that might be;, however, she knew it was near Boone. Q: What types of things do you enjoy doing? A: Well (she paused for a while) I like to garden. I collected flowers, shrubs and grew all sorts of. plants as a young girl. Q: Do you have any children? A: A boy, a girl, and another boy. Q: Where are they now? A: She paused for a few moments. One lives in Davidson and I dont know where the other two live, they may all live in Davidson. Mrs. Jackson couldnt remember her childrens names in that moment or where they lived. She then preceded to ask me if I have any siblings and I replied yes. Throughout the interviews she asked me a total of 3 times if I had sisters and brothers. Q: How did you end up here at the Pines? A: It was my own choice to come. Q: What did you do for work when you were younger? A: I used to work in an office and was a supervisor for accounting. Q: Where did you work? A: Bellsouth in downtown Charlotte.

Mrs. Jackson could answer all of the questions I presented intellectually, however, its when we did a puzzle game that she had trouble understanding how to play. She knew the colors and where they were, but didnt know where to place them. One quote that Dana left me with was, your life catches up with age. The fact that she knew to say something like this was

In order to complete my service hour fulfillment for my class, Im required to choose an activity to do with the residents of the Pines. I chose to do cookie decorating and see how the residents would react to decorating their own cookies. Primarily, I wanted to see if they could apply their own frosting, sprinkles, and generally, what they would do once they noticed the treat in front of them. Would they recognize it as a cookie? What would their first reaction be, to eat it, or wait for further instruction? What is their reaction to the type of cookie they got? Do certain residents know what cookie flavors they prefer, or do they not care about which cookie they received? These may seem like silly questions to ask, however, theyre important to consider when dealing with someone who has short-term memory. For the activity, I got four different types of cookies; double chocolate chunk, oatmeal, sugar, and peanut butter. Along with this, I got two different types of frosting, chocolate and vanilla, and rainbow, and chocolate

sprinkles. When we set up, most of the residents didnt know what was going on and what we were preparing for. There were looks of confusion. Most residents didnt want to move and had trouble getting up on their own and moving around. We did this activity in the Purcell Wing, which is a unit that specifically houses Alzheimers and Dementia patients. There are some individuals who are more aware than others or whose cases of Alzheimers/Dementia are less severe than others. When everyone was seated and the utensils/plates were distributed, my friend and I passed out the different types of cookies and set a different flavored icing and type of sprinkle at each table. There were looks of excitement on everyones face and you could tell they were just ready to eat the cookie. Carolyn, one resident, said, well can we decorate now or what!? Because most of them are hard of hearing, I shouted, Yes, go for it. Still staring at their cookies, none of the residents dug in and

all were confused as to what to do next. I had to go around to each table, along with the other supervisors, and show a tutorial on how to decorate a cookie. They didnt know at first how to dip the knife in the frosting, spread it on the cookie, and then add a pinch of sprinkles to it. It got a little sloppy. One resident named Amy got chocolate frosting all around her mouth and we all started laughing. There was no perfect cookie and the tables were messy, but the glory is that no one cared. In that moment, we could just be in each others company and enjoy decorating

cookies. Watching the whole activity take place was really heartening and cheerful. For a second it didnt matter where they were from, how they got here, where theyre families were, and what illness they have. It was simply just each person bringing their personality to the table.

Personal Interview with Ada Fanning

By: Rachel Burch Ada Fanning is a resident living with a really mild case of Dementia at the Pines at Davidson. She has been residing at the Pines for about 3 years. Ada is one of few residents who is aware of her surroundings and socially perceptive. She constantly has a big smile on her face and is always wearing some outlandish dress robe. She is hard of hearing, but, managed to answer the questions swiftly and appropriately.
Q: Do you wear that flower in your hair every day? ( Every time I see her, shes wearing a flower pen in her hair and so I finally asked her). A: This is a flower pen that my husband gave me and Ive worn it ever since. Ive had it for 40 years. Shocked that she had kept it all these years, I asked Q: Where is your husband? A: Hes not here anymore but boy was he a fellow. Q: Have you ever traveled anywhere crazy? A: Ive been to Paris, Russia, India, New York Wow, that is so many places, I said. Q: What was your favorite moment?

Alzheimers is a type of Dementia, but there are many other types. They both are degenerative conditions in which a person experiences loss of memory (Roeltgen). Additionally, individuals suffer with language (speaking/communicating), difficulty planning and difficulty moving around. When an individual is incapable of remembering certain life events, that personality starts to gradually fade away. There are two sides. On one side, people cant go back to old memories and on the other side, people cant remember recent events. Hence, this can cause individuals to have split personalities. The patients may become more aggressive, and start to not act like themselves. Pieces an individuals personality remain, but many parts fade away. Because emotions and personality changes occur, a persons sense of identity falters. Details from childhood experiences get mixed up and when they forget, they chip away a part of what makes them who they are (Roeltgen). Memories and childhood events are the basis of an individuals identity, and a loss of this is a loss of identity. As shown in the interviews, Ada remembers her husband and she reminisces on how he was such a funny fellow. Ada remembered her husbands personality, but she couldnt remember when he passed away. Memory certainly affects Ada and Dana, but not as severely as others. Their personalities still remain and they are both socially aware of whats going on. They have preserved most aspects of their identities.

A: Well.. I was supposed to meet the Pope John Paul and my husband, Walter Fanning and I were in Vatican City. I kept getting shoved in the crowd. Then, all of sudden, I bumped into the Pope and got to meet him! He said he loved my southern accent. Q: How long were you and your husband married? A: (She took a long pause) For 69 years.

When she said 69, my mouth dropped. Adas passion for the way she speaks, shows her personality and what a sweet soul she is. I loved how she was so eager to share her stories with me.

Alzheimers and Dementia

How to Interact With Someone who has Alzheimers and/or Dementia

1. Offer comfort and reassurance. If he/she is having trouble communicating, let them know its ok and not to rush. Encourage the person to finish their thought.

2. Be patient and supportive Make eye contact and let the person know you are listening to them, trying to understand. Show empathy and signs that you care.

3. Avoid criticizing, arguing and correcting Dont tell the person theyre wrong and if they say something that you dont agree with, dont get frustrated. Try to find the meaning in whats being said.

4. Offer a guess

Try and guess what the other person is trying to say if they cant think of

5. Focus on emotions, not facts

Often times the emotions are more important than what is being said. Look for the meaning behind the words.

I was born in Durham and have lived in Chapel Hill for the majority of my life. Im studying Public Health and I plan to minor in Psychology. I have a twin sister named Carlen, an older sister named Samantha, and an older brother named Ian. In my free time I like to watch movies, listen to music, exercise, socialize with friends, work, take pictures, and travel. One thing that has always interested me is how the brain functions and ultimately, how someone reaches the point of Alzheimers and Dementia. My Great Aunt, Kat, has a severe form of Dementia. It started getting worse as time progressed. I would go over to my grandmas house when she visited and I kept answering the same questions and hearing the same stories over and over. It was frustrating and I wanted to know what was wrong. This is something that has traumatized her way of thinking. She would sneak my sisters and I a bottle of pop and buy us a huge pack of Bazooka bubble gum when we were younger. My grandma didnt like us drinking soda and chewing gum, but my Kat did it anyway. When the condition worsened, she stopped coming to visit. I havent seen her in a long time. But, I hope to see her soon and she may not remember me, but I hope that we can reconnect and get back to the place we started. As far as self- identity goes, I firmly believe she is still her wild, hysterical, loving and caring self.

Works Cited

"Alzheimer's Facts and Figures." Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer's Association, n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <>.

Krucik, George. "What Is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's?" Healthline. Healthline Networks, Inc, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2014. Roeltgen, David. "The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease."HealthCentral. Remedy Health Media, LLC, 16 Apr. 2007. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

"Understanding Dementia." HelpGuide., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.