Alzheimer's Disease Summary 23

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Alzheimer's Disease Summary 23

By | October 1999
Page 1 of 9
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

We are currently living in the age of technology. Our advancements in the past few decades overshadow everything learned in the last 2000 years. With the elimination of many diseases through effective cures and treatments, Canadians can expect to live a much longer life then that of their grandparents. In 1900 about 4% of the Canadian population was over the age of 65. In 1989 that figure tripled to 12% and the government expects that figure to rise to 23% by the year 2030 (Medical,1991,p.13). This increase has brought with it a large increase in diseases associated with old age. Alzheimer's dementia (AD) is one of the most common and feared diseases afflicting the elderly community. AD, once thought to be a natural part of aging, is a severely debilitating form of mental dementia. Although some other types of dementia are curable or effectively treatable, there is currently no cure for the Alzheimer variety.

A general overview of Alzheimer's disease including the clinical description, diagnosis, and progression of symptoms, helps one to further understand the treatment and care of patients, the scope of the problem, and current research.

The clinical definition of dementia is "a deterioration in intellectual performance that involves, but is not limited to, a loss in at least 2 of the following areas: language, judgement, memory, visual or depth perception, or judgement interfering with daily activities" (Institute,1996, p.4). The initial cause of AD symptoms is a result of the progressive deterioration of brain cells (neurons) in the cerebral cortex of the brain. This area of the brain, which is the largest and uppermost portion, controls all our thought processes, movement, speech, and senses. This deterioration initially starts in the area of the cortex that is associated with memory and then progresses into other areas of the cortex, then into other areas of the brain that control bodily function. The death of...