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Alzheimer' Disease

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Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's Disease is a progressive degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior (Internet). It is a degenerative disease affecting nerve cells of the fontal and temporal lobes of the cerebrum of the brain. The disease is the major cause of presenile dementia (the loss of mental faculties not associated with advanced age) and is thought to be the largest single cause of senile dementia as well (Britannica, 306). It causes the connections between cells to become ineffective and the cells themselves to shutdown and eventually die (Davies, 1). Alzheimers's is a progressive, irreversible, fatal neurologic disorder that affects an estimated four million American adults. It is estimated by 2040, approximately fourteen million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Approximately nine percent of the population older than fifty-five years of age and twenty percent of those older than eighty-five years of age have Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease was the fourth leading cause of death among adults (more than 100,000 American deaths per year). It is projected that the number of people with Alzheimer's Disease will triple in the next twenty years. This epidemic of dementia is not confined to sex, race, social, or economic class. The public knows this disorder as "senility", although the term Alzheimer's is becoming more common (Internet). According to a quote from Hasselbring" Alzheimer's disease." Medical Self-Care 53- 57,January-February, 1986, a sixty-one year-old woman in early stages of Alzheimer's disease stated, "My mind goes to an empty and horrible place. When I come back, I'm in a room full of strangers. I fell so lost and afraid." Many Alzheimer's patients echo these sentiments. The disease is frightening and disabling (Internet). Alois Alzheimer, a German neuropathologist, originally described the disease in 1906. In the autopsy of a fifty-five year-old patient who had died with severe dementia, Alzheimer noted the presence in the brain of two abnormalities (Britannica, 306). Alzheimer's is more common in certain groups. Women are at higher risk, so are those who have a first-degree relation with the disease, or a history of head trauma (RN magazine, 26).Unfortunately, many people fail to recognize that these symptoms indicate something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behavior is a normal part of the aging process. Or, symptoms may develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Sometimes people refuse to act even when they know something is wrong. It's important to see a physician when you recognize these symptoms. Only a physician can properly diagnose the person's condition, and sometimes are reversible. Even if the diagnosis is Alzheimer's disease, help is available to learn how to care for a person with dementia and where to find assistance. Ten warning signs to watch for are: (1) memory loss, (2) difficulty performing familiar tasks, (3) problems with language, (4) disorientation of time,date and place, (5) poor



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