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Alzheimer’s Disease

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Essay title: Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease, often referred to as dementia, is a slowly progressive brain disorder that seriously affects an individual’s ability to carry out simple daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. The National Institute of Health states that scientist believe that as many as 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the risk continues to increase with age.(http://www.nia.nih.gov.) While Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly seen in individuals ages 65 and older there is a chance that younger individuals can be affected. In researching this disease I have learned that Alzheimer’s disease is not prejudice in whom it affects. It can effect as many men as it can women and it holds no bars when it come to religion, race or lifestyle.

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientist do not yet fully understand the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. They believe that the disease comes from plagues and tangles that occur and build up in the brain over a period of time. BUPA.org states that In Alzheimer's disease, the number of nerve cells in the brain gradually reduces and the brain shrinks. These nerve cells can't be replaced, so a person with Alzheimer's disease gets progressively worse as more cells are destroyed. Doctors believe that nerve cell destruction causes a reduction in acetylcholine, leading to impaired transmission of nerve signals. The damage to the

brain can be seen under a microscope. Brains affected by Alzheimer's disease have areas of plaques partly made up of dead nerve cells. The dead nerve cells contain tangles of an abnormal protein. These names reflect what these abnormalities in the brain look like under the microscope. (http://www.bupa.co.uk.) The National Institute of Mental Health also says that family history could also play an important role in the disease and individual who may be affected. It is also stated that several risk factor genes may interact with each other and with non-genetic factors to cause the disease. The only risk factor gene identified so far for late-onset AD is a gene that makes one form of a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE). Everyone has ApoE, which helps carry cholesterol in the blood. Only about 15 percent of people have the form that increases the risk of AD. It is likely that other genes also may increase the risk of AD or protect against AD, but they remain to be discovered. (http://www.nia.nih.gov.)

Signs and Symptoms

As with every individual each sign and symptom is going to vary along with the developmental stages of the disease progression. Some of the common symptoms seen in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and usually begin slowly are forgetfulness of simple everyday task such as brushing your teeth or hair, trouble remembering recent events or activities. In the middle to later stages individuals may forget familiar faces, places; there is often trouble in speaking, writing, and reading. Individuals could also become aggressive or in some cases wander away from home. In these instances there would need to be a round the clock care taker with the individual. In the later stages of the disease these symptoms more obvious and the

diseases is much easier to diagnose in this stage. This is typically the hardest part for the family members to deal with the disease. As with any disease I must say at this stage it is always important for family members to have their support groups lined up. There will be many times when you will need someone to turn to, someone who has knowledge of the disease and its progression. I have not personally had to deal with a family member but I worked in a nursing home for 3 years dealing with individuals who were plagued by this horrible disease. I would always find myself watching the family members struggling harder then the patient. I would always remind them that it was very important for them to have as much support as they could stand as this disease always gets worse.

The Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

The National Institute on Mental Heath states that as of today the only definite way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in the brain tissue. To look at the brain tissue, doctors usually must wait until they do an autopsy, which is an examination that is done on the body after a person dies. Therefore, doctor’s can only make a diagnosis “possible” or “probable” Alzheimer’s disease while the person is still alive. (http://www.nih.nia.gov.) However, the Mayo clinic states that there are now 4 hours

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