Alzheimers Disease Essay Research Paper Alzheimers DiseaseWe
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Alzheimers Disease Essay, Research Paper Alzheimer?s Disease We are currently living in the age of technology. Our advancements in the past few decades overshadow everything learned in the last 2000 years. With the elimination of many diseases through effective cures and treatments, humans can expect to live a much longer life then that of their grandparents. The population of the United States continues to rise, and with the “baby boom” era coming of age, the number of elderly people is rising as well. This increase has brought with it a large increase in diseases associated with old age. Alzheimer’s dementia is one of the most common and feared diseases afflicting the elderly community. Alzheimer?s disease, once thought to be a natural part of aging, is a severely debilitating form of mental dementia. Although some other types of dementia are curable or effectively treatable, there is currently no cure for the Alzheimer variety. A general overview of Alzheimer’s disease including the clinical description, diagnosis, and progression of symptoms, helps one to further understand the treatment and care of patients, the scope of the problem, and current research. The clinical definition of dementia is “a deterioration in intellectual performance that involves, but is not limited to, a loss in at least 2 of the following areas: language, judgment, memory, visual or depth perception, or judgment interfering with daily activities.” (Institute, 1996, p.4). The initial cause of Alzheimer?s disease symptoms is a result of the progressive deterioration of brain cells (neurons) in the cerebral cortex of the brain. This area of the brain, which is the largest and uppermost portion, controls all our thought processes, movement, speech, and senses. This deterioration initially starts in the area of the cortex that is associated with memory and then progresses into other areas of the cortex, then into other areas of the brain that control bodily functions. The death of these cells causes an interruption of the electrochemical signals between neurons that are a key to cognitive as well as bodily functioning. Currently Alzheimer?s disease can only be confirmed at autopsy. After death the examined brain of an Alzheimer victim shows two distinct characteristics. The first is the presence of neuritic plaques in the cerebral cortex and other areas of the brain including cerebral blood vessels. These plaques consist of groups of neurons surrounded by deposits of beta-amyloid protein. The presence of these plaques is also common to other types of dementia. The second characteristic, neurofibliary tangles, is what separates Alzheimer?s disease from all other forms of dementia. Neurofibliary tangles take place within the disconnected brain cells themselves. When examined under a microscope, diseased cells appear to contain spaghetti-like tangles of normally straight nerve fibers. The presence of these tangles was first discovered in 1906 by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, hence the name Alzheimer’s disease. Although the characteristics listed above are crucial to the diagnosis of Alzheimer?s disease upon death, the clinical diagnosis involves a different process. The diagnosis of Alzheimer?s disease is only made after all other illnesses, which may have the same symptoms, are ruled out. The initial symptoms of Alzheimer?s disease are typical of other treatable diseases. Therefore doctors are hesitant to give the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in order to save the patient from the worsening of a treatable disease through a misdiagnosis. Some of the initial symptoms include an increased memory loss, changes in mood, personality, and behavior, (symptoms that are common in depression) prescription drug conflict, brain tumors, syphilis, alcoholism, other types of dementia, and many other conditions. The onset of these symptoms usually brings the patient to his family doctor.