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Burton High Stories: Alzheimer's Disease

 Kayla Harrington, a high school senior at Burton High School in San Francisco
Kayla Harrington, a high school senior at Burton High School in San Francisco

Students studying health sciences at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco worked with KALW radio to share their perspectives on health issues and solutions. This story comes from Kayla Harrington, a senior who worries about Alzheimer's, a disease that runs in her family.

My name is Kayla Harrington. I am a 17-year-old high school senior at Burton High school. My topic is Alzheimer's. This disease has been running in my family since I was young. My aunt was diagnosed with disease when she was 64. She has been suffering with this disease for over 2 years.

The reason I’m working on Alzheimer's is because I want to better understand it and to spread awareness to all young girls.

Alzhemier's was discovered in 1906 when Dr. Alzhemier discovered it in brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Leading up to the woman's death she had symptoms of memory loss, speaking problems, and unpredictable behavior. The doctor had examined her brain after her death and found abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fiber. She had also lost connections between neurons in the brain.

Alzhemier's affects the brain because it destroys neurons and their connections to the brain involved with memory; it then later affects areas which are responsible for language, reason and social behavior.

A lot of adults suffer from this disease because of built up stress and anxiety. I believe this is caused because they weren't shown how to properly take care of their mental health.

This is why I want to share awareness and tips to young women so they can prevent/ lower the chance of being diagnosed with it as they get older.

There are many ways you can calm your mind and ease your stress. I get good sleep and exercise. Exercise can include walking a pet, playing a sport, going on hikes or walks and many more activities, like going to the beach, writing in a journal, and listening to music. Another tip is taking a break from your phone This is why I suggest going on a trip somewhere to take a break and be in a different environment. Finally, I recommend young women talk to someone. It can be a friend, parent, sibling, anyone you trust and you know they will listen.