A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal ailment that affects the brain with abnormal deposits of proteins that form amyloid plaques and tau tangles so once-healthy neurons begin to work less efficiently. The disease is found most commonly to affect those older than sixty-five. This disease usually last for seven to ten years, with less than three percent making it past fourteen years. The first signs and symptoms of developing Alzheimer’s disease are relatively low-key. Small memory loss and problems with smell are among the first. These do not at this point affect day-to-day life.
Other issues in the first stages can be: problems with word finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning and judgment. It has been discovered that damage to the brain has been occurring for years before the symptoms start. During the mild Alzheimer’s stage the disease continues to develop in the brain building up more plague. In this stage the memory loss worsens and cognitive strain is evident. Problems can include getting lost, trouble handling money, repeating questions, taking longer to complete tasks, and having some mood or personality changes.
This is the stage where most people are diagnosed. Next is the moderate stage. Damage of the brain spreads to areas of language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. At this point many people start to have trouble in recognizing their family and friends. Learning new things during this stage becomes increasingly difficult as does doing tasks with more than one step like making food. These symptoms often cause uncertainty which can lead to aggressiveness and paranoia. The last stage of this disease is the severe Alzheimer’s stage.
By now, the plagues have spread throughout the majority of the brain and the tissue has shriveled and shrunk significantly. People in this stage cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others. Their body will shut down and the person will most likely die in bed. For most cases of Alzheimer’s disease the cause is unknown. The only assumed thing is that the cause is some mix of environmental and lifestyle factors. Some rare cases of Alzheimer’s is when the disease develops in younger individuals. Called early onslaught, the disease appears in individuals thirty to sixty years old.
When the disease occurs then, the cause is a genetic mutation gotten from parents. This is less than five percent of cases and the mutation occurs in one of three chromosomes: twenty-one, fourteen, or one. If a genetic mutation is inherited there is almost complete certainty of getting the disease. When it comes to diagnosing Alzheimer’s there can only be a one hundred accurate diagnosis once the patient is dead. During the life of the patient they are given a “possible Alzheimer’s dementia” where there could be another cause for the memory loss or a “probable Alzheimer’s dementia” where there is no other possible cause.
In order to determine this, doctors can track the brain activity and record the rate of memory loss. The benefits of an early diagnosis for a patient are so that they can know if the causes of their problems are for something else than Alzheimer’s, something treatable. Also it can help give time to make plans for caretaking. Alzheimer’s will cost the US two hundred and three billion dollars during 2013. Originally it was Dr. Alois Alzheimer who discovered the disease. In 1901 he met his fifty-one year old patient who lived at the asylum he worked at for four years until her death.
Her condition continuously deteriorated with reference to memory, suspicion, confusion, agitation, and screaming. He performed an autopsy on her once she died and found her brain had shriveled and her neurons had disappeared. In 1906 he posted his findings to the public, not knowing the disease would be named after him. It is thought that right now there are thirty-six million people that are living with Alzheimer’s world-wide. In the USA there is thought to be five point one million.
When it comes to the differences in the sexes with this disease it is almost completely equal. Women take a slight lead which most believe is because women tend to live longer. Unfortunately, the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s continues to rise. While diseases like heart disease, stroke, and HIV are continuously having fewer victims, Alzheimer’s is heading the complete opposite direction, and at an astonishing rate. There has been a whopping sixty-eight percent increase in the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2000.
These numbers are most likely due to the fact that there is no known cure or treatment, and our population continues to rise in an exponential state. Choosing this disease means lot to me because this disease runs in my family. Even though going through the disease is bad enough on its own, there is also the added “benefit” of watching your family members forget and struggle in confusion until the day they die. My mother always told me this was the disease she would chose if she had to, because it would be others that would be the only ones suffering, she would know any better.
After researching all of this, I don’t feel so confident in that theory anymore. “Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Fact Sheet. ” National Institute on Aging. N. p. , n. d. Web. 05 May 2013. “The Discovery of Alzheimer’s Disease. ” Alzheimers Drug Discovery Foundation RSS. N. p. , n. d. Web. 05 May 2013. “Latest Facts & Figures Report | Alzheimer’s Association. ” Latest Facts & Figures Report | Alzheimer’s Association. N. p. , n. d. Web. 05 May 2013. “Alzheimer’s Disease – Questions and Answers. ” Alzheimer’ S Disease Questions and Answers. N. p. , n. d. Web. 05 May 2013.