Stress Hormones mediated by the Built Environment: A possibility to influence the progress of Alzheimer's Disease?

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Abstract

Due to the aging society, dementia is one of the major challenges to the health care systems all over the world. The growing number of patients, the long process and intensive need for care, especially in the later stages of the disease, make the growth in human as well as socioeconomic costs huge. The development of design strategies for nursing homes and other health care facilities such as day care centers addressing the needs of dementia patients is therefore very important. The vast majority of dementia cases is Alzheimer’s Disease, representing approximately 70% of all cases. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that starts in the hippocampus structure in the brain’s limbic system. The hippocampus has three interconnected functions; it holds the cognitive
map we use for way-finding, it creates new memories and it forms part of the feedback mechanism that controls the stress hormone cortisol. In the early stages of the disease, the impairment of way-finding and memory is particularly evident. These symptoms are therefore most often prioritized in design proposals and guidelines for AD patients. However, in this paper we argue that perhaps the most important impairment to address is the weakening of the hippocampus’ function in the stress system, as the lack of control of cortisol levels during stress can lead to further degradation of the hippocampus. We refer to a stress experiment suggesting that is possible through the built environment to influence the release of cortisol during stress. This again suggests that the design of e.g. nursing homes can contribute to a slower development of AD in its early stages
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Due to the aging society, dementia is one of the major challenges to the health care systems all over the world. The growing number of patients, the long process and intensive need for care, especially in the later stages of the disease, make the growth in human as well as socioeconomic costs huge. The development of design strategies for nursing homes and other health care facilities such as day care centers addressing the needs of dementia patients is therefore very important. The vast majority of dementia cases is Alzheimer’s Disease, representing approximately 70% of all cases. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that starts in the hippocampus structure in the brain’s limbic system. The hippocampus has three interconnected functions; it holds the cognitive
map we use for way-finding, it creates new memories and it forms part of the feedback mechanism that controls the stress hormone cortisol. In the early stages of the disease, the impairment of way-finding and memory is particularly evident. These symptoms are therefore most often prioritized in design proposals and guidelines for AD patients. However, in this paper we argue that perhaps the most important impairment to address is the weakening of the hippocampus’ function in the stress system, as the lack of control of cortisol levels during stress can lead to further degradation of the hippocampus. We refer to a stress experiment suggesting that is possible through the built environment to influence the release of cortisol during stress. This again suggests that the design of e.g. nursing homes can contribute to a slower development of AD in its early stages
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelARCH 17 : 3RD International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Helath; Coference Proceedings
RedaktørerNanet Mathiasen, Anne Kathrine Frandsen
Udgivelses stedCopenhagen
ForlagPolyteknisk Boghandel og Forlag
Publikationsdato2017
Sider150-162
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-87-93585-00-3
StatusUdgivet - 2017
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa
BegivenhedInternational Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Health: 3rd international conference on architecture, research, care and health - Aalborg Universitet, A.C. Meyers Vænge 15, København, Danmark
Varighed: 26 apr. 201727 apr. 2017
Konferencens nummer: 3
http://www.arch17.aau.dk
http://www.arch17.aau.dk/

Konference

KonferenceInternational Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Health
Nummer3
LokationAalborg Universitet, A.C. Meyers Vænge 15
LandDanmark
ByKøbenhavn
Periode26/04/201727/04/2017
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