Alzheimer’s disease is a complex illness that affects the brain tissue directly and undergoes gradual memory and behavioral changes which makes it difficult to diagnose. It is known to be the most common form of dementia and is irreversible. Over four million older Americans have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to triple in the next twenty years as more people live into their eighties and nineties. (Johnson, 1989). There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s but throughout the past few years a lot of progress has been made.
Doctors need a sure way to diagnose the disease before treatment or studies can be done. The diagnosis is an autopsy of brain tissue examined under a microscope. In addition, medical history, …show more content…
Due to the inability of the brain to replace nerve cells, some brain function is lost. The key question in Alzheimer’s disease is, what causes the neuron degeneration (Johnson, 1989)? The focus for finding the cause is on abnormal structures found in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the abnormal structures the brain undergoes still has researchers uncertain as to how they are involved in Alzheimer’s and exactly how the disease occurs.
Therefore, not knowing the exact causes of the disease, the signs and symptoms will help with the diagnosis. The first sign may be mild forgetfulness that progresses to affect language, reasoning, understanding, reading and
writing. There has been known cases of people with Alzheimer’s who become anxious, aggressive and wander away from home (Wallace, 1998). These individuals have a severe case of the disease and must be taken care of on a daily basis. Alzheimer’s progresses and affects individuals differently. Many signs are shown in the individual with the disease, which allows you to classify which stage the individual is in. Some of the signs to look for are, difficulty learning and retaining new information, reasoning and abstract thought, judgment and planning, poor language skills, inhibition and impulse control and short term memory loss (Wallace, 1998). If any or all of these signs occur, the individual most likely has Alzheimer’s.
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Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, accounting for 65–70% of all cases (Jellinger, Janetzky, Attems, & Kienzl, 2008). The other dementias are of the Parkinson 's group, the fronto-temporal group and the vascular group. The total worldwide yearly costs for the treatment and care of patients suffering from dementia are estimated to be around 250 billion US dollars. The lifetime risk for AD between the ages of 65 and 100 is 33% for men and 45% for women with an annual increase of 1–2% in the seventh decade to almost 60% in the 10th decade with doubling every 5 years (Jellinger et al., 2008). AD is incurable, and thus represents a major public health problem. AD represents a challenge to humanity due to its relatively recent discovery, progressive nature of the illness, and complex diagnosis.
In times past many people thought that memory loss was a normal occurrence for elderly people. This thinking was major reason for why Alzheimer’s disease was not caught until very later in the stages. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. After heart disease, cancer, and strokes, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of death in adults in the Western world. “It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans over the age of 65 are affected with this condition. After the age of 65, the incidence of the disease doubles every five years and, by age 85, it will affect nearly half of the population” (Robinson).
During the onset of the disease, symptoms are usually non-existant, and progress slowly over the course of many years, often going unnoticed until they become more severe. Alzheimer's is somewhat difficult to diagnose, but there are some common symptoms to all patients. Memory loss occurs in all patients. The person may have trouble remembering small things such as phone numbers, or where he/she put the keys. Eventually, short term memory is lost, and only memories in the far past are able to be recalled. People with Alzheimer's can become disoriented and can get lost easily when out on their own. Mood changes also occur, and the person can be easily irritated or agitated by seemingly insignificant things. Cognitive deterioration also occurs, with the person losing the ability to understand spoken language or recall the meanings of different words (Grayson, "Recognizing Alzheimer's" 1). Despite these common symptoms, making a diagnosis is difficult since Alzheimer's patientscan display the same symptoms as a head injury or depression.
Alzheimer’s disease is a common problem in today’s society and within the older population this disease makes up the largest form of dementia. Although it is a problem in mainly older people, this disease can still occur in the younger population also. People in their 30s-50s can be diagnosed with this disease, even though it is not as common as people in their 60s-90s. The number of people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. is close to five million and is expected to double within the next 30 years. With our modern medicine and advancements one would think a cure would be available, however, getting to the cause of the disease is a major factor. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is one that is very debatable and questionable and most likely is a result of multiple factors rather than one. The main issue with finding the cause is because this disease affects the brain and can
Alzheimer’s Disease is a disease of the future. With the growing aged population, this disease, which affects primarily the elderly, will become of increasing relevance to the medical profession. Also, the high frequency of Alzheimer’s, and the high cost in labor, money, and material of caring for its victims shall put considerable burden on the society as a whole. Here, however, these issues are not going to be debated. Instead the pathology of Alzheimer’s will be reviewed to the extent it is known today.
Additional signs and symptoms may affect areas of attention, learning, perceptual abilities, reasoning, language and communication, behavior and social thinking, and even feeding and swallowing. These may include episodic memory deficits, being easily distracted, difficulty planning or focusing on a task, inability to recognize familiar people, word-finding difficulties, troubles following simple tasks, inappropriate behavior, lack of motivation, repeating themselves in conversation, forgetting to eat, and many others signs (Dementia: Signs and Symptoms,
Alzheimer’s disease is the six leading cause of death in America with its major cause still unknown. Scientist understand that even before early onset symptoms appear there are communication errors between the neurons of the brain. As the disease progresses, family members often notice that their loved ones are more forgetful then normal. The disease progressively worsens until one is unable to recognized loved ones, has difficulty speaking, walking, and even swallowing. The brain of one with advanced Alzheimer’s is actually radically different from that have a healthy brain.
Alzheimer’s disease, considered the most common form of dementia, is a degenerative brain disorder which leads to loss of memory and decline of cognitive thinking. Alzheimer’s disease effects over 5 million Americans, a number which is expected to triple in the projected future, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (Dougherty, R.J., et al). Majority of these affected people are sixty-five years of age or older and have what is called late-onset Alzheimer’s, whilst a smaller margin of individuals is younger than sixty-five years of age and are said to have early-onset Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease presents itself in three main stages, is caused by the degeneration of neurons and by the changes in protein composition in the brain, and despite the lack of definitive, early diagnosis or preventative treatment the disease can to a certain degree be detected and managed.
A common observation in the brain of people who have died from Alzheimer’s is that plaques and tangles make from protein fragments are present. (A Century of Alzheimer’s Disease)
Alzheimer’s Disease is indicated by the break down of the nervous system, essentially the neurons within the brain (MacGill, 2009). The break down leads to nerve cell eradication, and the casualty of tissue throughout the brain (MacGill, 2009). As the disease progress, the brain begins to shrink fiercely, developing loss of its normal functioning (MacGill, 2009). Abnormal protein groups and structures of plaques and tangles characterize the disease (MacGill, 2009). Plagues and tangles are not able to be viewed or tested in the living brain, but are able to be observed in an autopsy of an infected deceased (MacGill, 2009).
There are more than 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s and it causes 500,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone. This disease is growing quickly, by the year 2050 it is expected that there will be 16 million people diagnosed with it in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide. The goal is to overcome this disease by the year 2025, which is possible, but very challenging. A neurologist at Harvard Medical School, by the name of Rudolph Tanzi said, “We will be able to identify those most at risk based on their genetics, do imaging tests to determine the onset and then institute therapies that nip it in the bud”(Marsa). This is great news because it will help the doctors get a jumpstart on those who are at risk of getting the disease. Memory loss is the main issue of Alzheimer’s which is caused by tangles in the brain. Without the tangles there is no disease, the tangles are what cause it. Alzheimer’s also causes shrinkage to the brain. Moving ahead with a cure, researcher need to figure out how the protective mutant gene works, making a treatment to copy what it does
Alzheimer's disease typically develops slowly and progressively gets worse over time. It affects the brain area, including one’s memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality and movement (Kurz, 2012). There are five stages associated with Alzheimer's disease which include (a) preclinical Alzheimer's disease, (b) mild cognitive impairment, (c) mild dementia due to Alzheimer's, (d) moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's and (e) severe dementia due to Alzheimer's (Kurz, 2012). Looking at the situation of the 77-years old woman, she is categorized to be in the mild dementia stages where memory loss, changes in personality, wandering, difficulty in expressing thought is occurring. Individuals at this stage are well monitored; they have a hard time remembering recent events or newly learned information while they repeatedly ask the same question over and over. They become socially challenged and isolated with possibility of displaying feelings of anger, guilt and irritability. It is very common for them to get lost in familiar places and can become agitated and hostile
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that attacks and ultimately destroys brain cells. Without these cells functioning properly, every aspect of a person’s life is adversely affected until they are no longer able to care for themselves. Despite years of research and the large amount of money that has gone into the study of this disease and its effects, there is much that remains a mystery in regards to Alzheimer’s disease. While great strides have been made towards a cause and ultimately a cure, there is much work to be done before Alzheimer’s disease will no longer be a threat.
The brains of patients with Alzheimer's have distinctive formations—abnormally shaped proteins called tangles and plaques—that are recognised as the hallmark of the disease. Not all brain regions show these characteristic formations. The areas most prominently affected are those related to memory.
The research into Alzheimer's Disease has come a long way since 1906 when it is was discovered by Alois Alzheimer. He detected microscopic brain tissue changes called senile and neuritic plaques in deceased patients. These are chemical deposits consisting of protein molecules called Amyloid Precursor Protein(APP) that are fundamental components of a normal brain. However in the brain of an Alzheimer patient, an enzyme cuts the APP apart and leaves fragments in the brain tissue. These combined with degenerating nerve cells cause the plaques or lesions. These lesions are found in many sections of the brain including the hippocampus which regulates emotion and memory, the basal forebrain, and especially the basal nucleus of Meynert and the cortex, where the memory function is located.(2) Another sign of a diseased brain are neurofibrillary tangles, which are malformations within nerve cells.