Our bodies are hard-wired by nature to react to stress in a way that was originally meant to protect us against perceived threats from predators and aggressors. The "fight-or-flight” response is our natural alarm system, and a normal psychological and physical reaction to stress. Many of the demands of life such as workload, traffic, financial obligations, taking care of children and aging parents can cause your time clock to keep on ticking. That increased levels of stress hormones can cause serious health problems in the long run.

When you encounter perceived threats such as a large dog barking at you during a morning walk, your hypothalamus sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located at the top your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugar, or glucose, into the bloodstream and enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth process.

Normally after the perceived threat is diminished, the release of stress hormones ceases and your body returns to its normal state. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. Long periods of being stressed and overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can affect almost all of your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:

Heart Disease
Sleep Disorders
Digestive Problems
Memory Impairment
Skin Conditions, Such As Eczema

Researchers at UC Irvine have discovered that stress hormones also appear to rapidly exacerbate the formation of brain lesions which are the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. The findings suggest that managing stress and reducing certain medications prescribed for the elderly could slow down the progression of this devastating disease. Frank LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behavior, and a team of UCI researchers found that when young animals were injected for just 7 days with dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid similar to the body's stress hormones, the levels of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain increased by 60%. When beta-amyloid production increases and these protein fragments aggregate, they form plaques, one of the 2 hallmark brain lesions of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists also found that the levels of another protein Tau also increased. Tau accumulation eventually leads to the formation of tangles, the other signature lesion of Alzheimer’s. The findings for this study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience. The increased accumulation of beta-amyloid and Tau appears to work in a "feedback loop" to hasten the progression of Alzheimer's. The researchers found that the higher levels of beta-amyloid and Tau led to an increase in the levels of the stress hormones, which would come back to the brain and speed up the formation of more plaques and tangles. According to the researchers, these findings have profound implications for how to treat the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer's. Assisted Living Los Angeles have many facilities that specialize in Alzheimers care.

"This study suggests that not only is stress management an important factor in treating Alzheimer's disease, but that physicians should pay close attention to the pharmaceutical products they prescribe for their elderly patients," said Kim Green, a postdoctoral researcher in Neurobiology and Behavior. "Some medications prescribed for the elderly people who live in Assisted Living or Nursing Home environments for various conditions contain glucocorticoids. These drugs may be leading to accelerated cognitive decline in patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.” Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects nearly 5 million adults in the United States. If no effective therapies are developed, it is estimated that 13 million Americans will be afflicted with the disease by 2050. Dementia Care is available in Assisted Living Facilities Los Angeles as well as other major cities across the nation. Dementia Care is specifically for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of Dementia.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author: Gloria Ha'o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Assisted Living Facilities and the Elderly Healthcare industry to provide resources to families and their elderly loved ones across the nation.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for independent accommodations such as Assisted Living Los Angeles, Board and Care Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, as well as a variety of Home Healthcare services nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit Assisted Living Houston or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.
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