Alzheimer's Disease - Essay 2

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Alzheimer's Disease

Joy Pachowicz

PSY 350

Professor Alina Sheppe Perez

May 15, 201

Introduction

Alzheimer's disease, despite being so widespread, is not really considered part of the aging process. According to Robert Feldman, author of the textbook, “Understanding Psychology”, only 19% of people who are ages 75 to 84 suffer from this disease. It is only once they pass the age of 85, that the elderly need to be more concerned about the possibility of developing Alzheimer's disease. ( Feldman, p.446)

Fifty percent of all people over 85 years of age suffer from Alzheimer's disease and researchers believe that if no cure for the disease is found by the year 2050; there will be 14 million people affected by this disease. (Feldman, p.446)

What is Alzheimer's disease and how is it diagnosed? What are its symptoms and who are most likely to develop this disease? The purpose of this paper is to explore what Alzheimer's disease is and offer some suggestions of how to approach it in the future.

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, Alzheimer's Disease is a “progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in the loss of memory, thinking, language skills, and behavioral changes” (www.alzfdn.org)

With Alzheimer's disease, neuron cells are destroyed in the hippocampus, and this is what sparks the loss of short term memory; and as neuron cells die in the cerebral cortex, so too the functionality of language and clear thinking sees a marked decline in the person who has developed Alzheimer's disease (www.alzfdn.org)

With Alzheimer's disease, there is diminished production of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is very much involved with our ability to memorize and retain information; so, if there is a decrease in Acetylcholine; our memory's ability to function suffers greatly. (Feldman, p.66)

Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

How does one know to even consult with a specialist or seek out one's physician regarding Alzheimer's disease? There are some telltale symptoms that set up red flags of warning. If you see any of these symptoms, please see a physician to determine if you have Alzheimer's disease: 1. Memory Loss that disrupts Daily Life

2. Difficulties in planning events or solving problems
3. Difficulties performing familiar tasks or household work 4. Confusion with time or place.
5. Troubles interpreting visual images and spacial relationships 6. Problems with forming words or with communicating

Losing items and not being able to remember what one recently did. 7. Failing and poor judgement
8. Withdrawal from work or social activities
9. Changes in Mood or Behavioral ( www.alz.org)

Now just because you may have one or all these doesn't necessarily mean you have Alzheimer's disease. Time is very much a key element in acting on these symptoms. If these symptoms persist over a long period of time; then it's time to have a professional evaluation of the symptoms.

. Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease

According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are several steps to take when trying to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. First, one must consult with his/her medical doctor. When going, it’s important to take a copy of one's whole medical history. While at the consultation, one can be given a mental status test. Along with this test, a physical and neurological exam should be given. Blood tests should be taken to rule out other possible causes of memory loss. (www.alz.org)

The specialists one could see to determine whether one is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and not some other illness are: Psychologists, Neurologists and Psychiatrist. (www.alz.org)

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

As with other diseases, Alzheimer’s has varying stages it progresses through as it develops in the body and affects the brain....
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