Initially identified in 1906 by the German neuropathologist, Alois Alzheimer, Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 2.5 to 3 million persons in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s disease, which consists of a group of degenerative diseases in the brain, generally surfaces in middle age when mental deterioration first becomes apparent.
Alzheimer’s disease is also referred to as “presenile dementia.” The term dementia regards particularly to memory and thought processes.
One of the first common signs of Alzheimer’s disease is an obvious lack of reasoning and impairment of judgement. Gradually, an Alzheimer’s patient will also experience memory loss. Ironically, though, it’s the ability to remember recent events that will be damaged. The memories that were imprinted many years ago & early in life can be vividly recalled. At times, the Alzheimer’s patient may wander off on adventure walks, getting lost with no clue of the right way to go.
Sadly, this progression downhill will only get worse and will eventually affect the patient’s physical attributes, personal hygiene, and finally, the command of language. Ultimately, he/she becomes literally helpless.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet. However, there have been improvements in caring for persons with this disease and these medical treatments have increased the life span of many patients. Many of these patients have survived 15 or more years when the average life expectancy was only five to ten years.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is a process of elimination. The only time doctors can confirm with certainty that a patient has this disease is during an autopsy. The nerve cell loss, which is located in the parts of the brain associated with cognitive thinking, can be seen when the autopsy is performed.
The formation of abnormal proteins known as neurofibrillary plaques are included in the hallmark lesions of Alzheimer’s disease. There are also profound deficits in the brain’s neurotransmitters, chemicals that transmit nerve impulses, particularly acetylcholine. These have been linked with memory function.
It is probable that a small percentage of Alzheimer’s cases are inherited, according to what recent findings indicate. Still, scientists & doctors have yet to answer the question that revolves around Alzheimer’s disease, which is why particular classes of nerve cells are vulnerable and subject to cell death.