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Alzheimer'S Disease And Its Effect On The Patient And Care Giver

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Alzheimer's Disease and Its Effect on the Patient and Care Giver

[Mississippi Valley State University]

Louis Scott

11/16/2006

ED 102-03 General Psychology

Dr. Wayne Robinson

Abstract

Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer's disease (AD), which initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Scientists are learning more every day, right now they still do not know what causes AD, and there is no cure. Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes AD. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently. Age is the most important known risk factor for AD. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. Family history is another risk factor. Scientists believe that genetics may play a role in many AD cases. For example, early-onset familial AD, a rare form of AD that usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60, is inherited. The more common form of AD is known as late-onset. It occurs later in life, and no obvious inheritance pattern is seen in most families. However, several risk factor genes may interact with each other and with non-genetic factors to cause the disease. This paper will discuss what is Alzheimer's Disease, the stages associated with the disease, and the impact it has on a family caregiver.

Alzheimer's Disease :The Effects on the Patient and Care Giver

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer's progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions or hallucinations.

AD begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness, which can be confused with age-related memory change. Most people with mild forgetfulness do not have AD. In the early stage of AD, people may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. They may not be able to solve simple math problems. Such difficulties may be a bother, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm.

However, as the disease goes on, symptoms are more easily noticed and become serious enough to cause people with AD or their family members to seek medical help. Forgetfulness begins to interfere with daily activities. People in the middle stages of AD may forget how to do simple tasks like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They can no longer think clearly. They can fail to recognize familiar people and places. They begin to have problems speaking, understanding, reading, or writing. Later on, people with AD may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, patients need total care.

AD is a slow disease, starting with mild memory problems and ending with severe brain damage. The course the disease takes and how fast changes occur vary from person to person. On average, AD patients live from 8 to 10 years after they are diagnosed, though some people may live with AD for as many as 20 years. No treatment can stop AD. (Alz.org)

This paper will discuss what Alzheimer's is and the stages associated with the disease.

We will also discuss the impact it has on the caregiver, by doing an interview with an actual caregiver.

Listed below are the 7 stage of the Alzheimer's disease:

Stage 1: No impairment (normal function)

Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease)

Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline

Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline

Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline

Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline

Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline (This is the final stage of the disease when individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, the ability to speak and, ultimately, the ability to control movement.)

Alzheimer's disease is progressive, which means that symptoms worsen over time. According to researchers and doctors a number of scales are used to measure the progression of symptoms over time, which may define as many as seven distinct stages of the disease. Three broad phases are typically recognized: mild, moderate and severe. The symptoms commonly seen in each stage are summarized below. Some may overlap among the stages, and some people may not experience all of these symptoms. The list below describes the stages of the disease.

Symptoms by Stage of Disease:

Mild Symptoms

* Confusion and memory loss

* Disorientation; getting lost in familiar surroundings

* Problems with routine tasks

* Changes in personality and judgment

Moderate Symptoms

* Difficulty with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing

* Anxiety, suspiciousness, agitation

* Sleep disturbances

* Wandering, pacing

* Difficulty recognizing family and friends

Severe Symptoms

* Loss of speech

* Loss of appetite; weight loss

* Loss of bladder and bowel control

* Total dependence on caregiver

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