By Isabelle Dorantes, Publications Student Writer • September 25, 2023
September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and World Alzheimer’s Awareness is September 21st. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. It can cause memory loss and affect other cognitive abilities negatively. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and it represents 60-80% of dementia cases.
The most common first symptom of Alzheimer’s is having trouble remembering information that was newly learned. Alzheimer’s usually starts in the area that affects learning in the brain. It spreads to other parts of the brain from there. It will usually go to areas that affect social behavior and language understanding. What is happening in the brain is that its cells are failing. The neurons that transmit messages throughout the brain and the rest of the body have lost their connection to other nerve cells. This causes the proteins that cells make to form incorrectly. Proteins in cells keep the cells functioning. Since these connections between neurons are destroyed, the neurons can’t communicate with each other. Eventually, many areas of the brain will be destroyed to function, so this disease is fatal.
To understand Alzheimer’s, it is important to understand a little bit about the brain. The brain is responsible for every action a human makes. The brain is divided into different parts that work together as a team. The brain and the entire nervous system make up many kinds of cells, but the communication cells are called neurons. Neurons contain three main parts: the cell body, the dendrites, and the axon. The cell body is made of the nucleus and that keeps the neuron functioning. The dendrites extend out from the cell body. The dendrites are able to receive messages from other neurons. These signals can travel down the axon so they can be sent to another neuron. Cell communication is vital to a functioning brain. The signals between neurons are called neurotransmitters and they are responsible for regulating the bodily functions. These signals can tell a person if they are hungry or tired.
Since the brain is responsible for regulating the body, it is important that they work well. Alzheimer’s usually is more likely to occur with age. A person with Alzheimer’s will not know they have it until it is diagnosed. A person with Alzheimer’s can have trouble doing common tasks, such as making food or washing the dishes. It is important to spread awareness for Alzheimer’s because many people look down on people with Alzheimer’s. A person with Alzheimer’s didn’t do anything wrong and there shouldn’t be a stigma against them. Before their diagnosis, they were regular humans just like everyone else. A way to support Alzheimer’s awareness is to support the Purple Club here at Canyon. They raise money for Alzheimer’s through fundraisers and walks. They also make cards for people in Alzheimer’s clinics.