It is estimated that about 4.5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's. This number has more than doubled since 1980. It affects all races. About one in ten people over the age of sixty-five have Alzheimer's, and as many as five in ten people over the age of eighty-five have Alzheimer's. A person with Alzheimer's disease will live an average of eight years and up to as many as twenty years from the onset of symptoms. Do these statistics sound scary? They should. The makers of Aricept, an accepted treatment for the symptoms of the disease lament that "sadly, many people think the early symptoms of Alzheimer's are signs of normal aging" (Aricept.com 1), so Alzheimer's is often neither diagnosed nor treated early, adding to ever increasing number of adults who suffer from the disease.
Alzheimer's Disease was first identified by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German Physician in 1906. After the death of a middle-aged patient who experienced progressive problems with memory, language, and behavior, he performed an autopsy on her brain and "identified two changes in brain tissue that are essential features of the disease that bears Alzheimer's name" (History of Alzheimer's 1). Alois Alzheimer is recognized for his early contribution to the understanding of the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's. His first observations and reports remain accurate; however, many changes in brain structure and functioning have been identified.
Alzheimer's Disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes a gradual and irreversible decline in memory, language skills, perception of time and space, and, eventually, the ability to care for oneself. It occurs in middle to late adult life, destroying neurons and connections in the cerebral cortex and resulting in significant loss of brain mass. It is the most common form of dementia, a term that describes a group of symptoms that are caused by changes in brain function, and in... [continues]
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