Alzheimer 's Disease : Caring For Caregivers

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Alzheimer’s Disease: Caring for Caregivers Jessica Meyer, Vanderbilt University 4 August 2014 Introduction & Background Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. This neurological condition is brought on by the malfunction or death of neurons in the brain, causing changes to one’s memory, behavior, and ability to think and reason logically and clearly. There is no cure for the disease and very little available to treat the symptoms. While AD was discovered over 100 years ago by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, it has only been in the last few decades that research and science have started to understand the inner workings of the neurological degeneration and possible hypothesis as to its cause. However, the physiologic changes that trigger the change in neurons still remains unknown. AD worsens as it progresses and life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years; fewer than three percent of individuals will live more than 15 years after their diagnosis (Mölsä, Martlla, Rinne, 1995). AD is most commonly associated with the elderly population, with the majority of diagnosis occurring in individuals over 65. Early onset Alzheimer’s is possible but not nearly as common. Physicians diagnose cases of dementia based on the criteria found in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), published in 2013. The criteria demand decline in memory and at least one of
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