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Geriatric Psychology on Alzheimer’s Disease - Dictionary of Arguments

Upton I 142
Alzheimer’s disease/Geriatric psychology/Upton: Individuals with dementia often lose the ability to look after themselves. They may also no longer recognize familiar places or people, including close family members such as their children or a spouse (Clark, 2006)(1). The most common form of dementia, accounting for between 50 and 70 per cent of all dementia, is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is progressive, meaning that it involves a gradual decline in skills. It is also irreversible. The disease is characterized by a gradual deterioration in memory, reasoning, language and eventually physical functioning.
Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, making it predominantly a disease of old age. However, up to 5 per cent of people with the disease have what is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s: this form of the disease often appears when someone is in their forties or fifties.
Many of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s are ones we cannot change, such as age and genetics.
(…) it is now commonly believed that Alzheimer’s disease occurs as a result of complex interactions among genes and other risk factors such as diet and lifestyle choices.
This is another example of the diathesis-stress model (…).
Def diathesis-stress model/Upton: a model that hypothesizes that abnormal behaviour patterns are due to a combination of genetic susceptibility and a stressful environment.
This means that, in individuals with the genetic potential for Alzheimer’s disease, certain environmental factors such as lifestyle choices may trigger the disease.
(…) it has been found that there is a link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
Kivipelto et al. (2005(2), 2006(3)) found obesity in middle age to be associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Other studies have suggested that health problems in middle age, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, also increase the risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are all health problems that can affect the heart and blood vessels and it is thought that, if the vessels in the brain are affected, this can result in dementia. It has also been found that older adults with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to have heart disease than individuals without Alzheimer’s (Hayden et al.. 2006)(4).



1. Clark, R, Hyde, ¡S, Essex. MJ and Klein, MH (2006) Length of maternity leave and quality of mother- infant interactions. Child Development, 68,2: 364-83.
2. Kivipelto, M. Ngandu. T and Fratiglioni. L et al. (2005) Obesity and vascular risk factors at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. Archives of Neurology, 62: 1556-60.
3. Kivipelto, M, Ngandu, T and Laatikainen T et al. (2006) Risk score for the prediction of dementia risk in 20 years among middle aged people: a longitudinal, population-based study. Lancet Neurology, 5: 735-41.
4. Hayden, KM, Zandi, PP, Lyketsos, CG, Khachaturian, AS and Bastian, LA et al. (2006) Vascular risk factors for incident Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia: the Cache County study. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 20(2): 93-100.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Geriatric Psychology
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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