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Alzheimer's Disease and It's Effects upon the Aging and Their Families

Autor:   •  October 3, 2011  •  Case Study  •  963 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,194 Views

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Alzheimer's Disease and It's Effects Upon the Aging and Their Families

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive disease that affects millions of Americans. It is the loss of cognitive functioning¾thinking, remembering, and reasoning¾to such an extent that it interferes with a person's daily life and activities. The disease worsens with time and has a very upsetting and negative impact on the patient and the patient's family members.

Alzheimer's Disease and It's Effects Upon the Aging and Their Families

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, a neurological disease characterized by loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living. Alzheimer's Disease begins with a gradual decline in mental functions and is first characterized by memory loss. As the disease progresses, individuals ability to communicate, their mood, and even personality will change, they might not even remember their own family members. In the final stages, they may have severe trouble eating, communicating, and controlling their bladder (Larkin 2009).

Some individuals are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease as early as their 40s and 50s, in that case it is referred to as "Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease." However, most patients don't begin to develop Alzheimer's disease until their 70s. The statistic is that between 2 and 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to increase with the growing elderly population and the fact that people are living longer in general (NIH, 2010).

The causes of Alzheimer's disease is unknown but there are theories developing from extensive research. We know that the disease effects brain cells, and autopsies on people that had Alzheimer's disease showed that the memory and reasoning regions of the brain had become clogged with two abnormal structures known as neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques. However, it is still unknown as to what triggers the formation of these tangles and plaques (Owens, 2006).

To help spot and diagnose the disease, the Alzheimer's Association has developed a list of ten warning signs: memory loss that effects job skills, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation of time and place, poor or decreased judgement, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, changes in personality, loss of initiative (Alzheimer's Association, 2010). If a person has several of these symptoms it is quite possible that they have the disease and in that case they should see a physician immediately to be properly diagnosed and seek medical help.

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