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Alzheimers Disease Essay Research Paper Alzheimers DiseaseWhat

Alzheimers Disease Essay, Research Paper

Alzheimers Disease

What is Alzheimers Disease? The most common form of dementing illness,

Alzheimers Disease (AD) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the

brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior. The person with AD may

experience confusion, personality and behavior changes, impaired judgment, and

difficulty finding words, finishing thoughts or following directions. It

eventually leaves its victims incapable of caring for themselves.

What happens to the brain in Alzheimers Disease? In AD The nerve cells

in the part of the brain that controls memory, thinking, are damaged,

interrupting the passage of messages between cells. The cells develop

distinctive changes that are called neuritic plaques (clusters of degenerating

nerve cell ends) and neurofibrillary tangles (masses of twisted filaments which

accumulate in previously health nerve cells). The cortex (thinking center) of

the brain shrinks (atrophies), The spaces in the center of the brain become

enlarged, also reducing surface area in the brain.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimers Disease? Alzheimers Disease is a

dementing illness which leads to loss of intellectual capacity. Symptoms usually

occur in older adults (although people in their 40s and 5Os may also be

affected) and include loss of language skills such as trouble finding words,

problems with abstract thinking, poor or decreased judgment, disorientation in

place and time, changes in mood or behavior and changes in personality. The

overall result is a noticeable decline in personal activities or work


Who is affected by Alzheimers Disease? Alzheimers Disease knows no

social or economic boundaries and affects men and women almost equally. The

disease strikes older persons more frequently, affecting approximately 10% of

Americans over age 65 and 47% of those over age 85.

Is Alzheimers Disease hereditary? There is a slightly increased risk

that children, brothers, and sisters of patients with Alzheimers Disease will

get it, but most cases are the only ones in a family. Some patients who develop

the disease in middle age (called early onset) have a “familial” type more than

one case in the family. It is important to note that AD can only be definitively

diagnosed after death through autopsy of brain tissue. Thirty percent of

autopsies turn up a different diagnosis. Families are encouraged to ask for an

autopsy as a contribution to learning more about the genetics of AD.

Are there treatments available for Alzheimers Disease? Presently, there

is no definite cure or treatment for Alzheimers Disease. Unfortunately, there

are many unscrupulous individuals who market so-called “cures.” These treatments

are often expensive and they dont cure AD. However, since senility is such a

scary problem and because families are desperate to find help for loved ones,

these bogus treatments continue to sell. Most of them have no scientific proof

of effectiveness.

What is the scope of Alzheimers Disease? Alzheimers afflicts

approximately 4 million Americans and its estimated that one in three of us will

face this disease in an older relative. More than 100,000 die annually, making

Alzheimers Disease the fourth leading cause of death among adults. Half of all

current nursing home patients are affected, making AD a costly public health and

long term care problem. An estimated $80 billion is spent annually on the care

of AD, including costs diagnosis, treatment, nursing home care, at-home care and

lost wages. Alzheimers also affects the patients caregivers, who become the

second victims. Persons with AD often require 24-hour care and supervision, most

of which is provided in the home by family and friends. In addition to the

tremendous stress of providing care, families also bear most of the financial

burdens of the disease as well.