The Issues Surrounding Alzheimer's Disease

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Dementia is the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. For centuries, people called it senility and considered it an inevitable part of aging. It is now known that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process and that it is caused by an underlying condition. People with this condition need special assistance to carry on with their normal lives. This paper will explain some of the social services that are helping to combat this disease and an analysis of the services effectiveness. More than four million older Americans have Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia. And that number is expected to triple in the next 20 years as more people live into their 80s and 90s. Still, there's reason for hope. There are as yet no cures, but researchers studying Alzheimer's have made progress, especially in the last 5 years. New drugs that can temporarily improve mental abilities in some people with mild Alzheimer's are now available, and more drugs are being studied. Researchers also have discovered several genes associated with Alzheimer's. Furthermore, scientists are defining subgroups of dementias and their distinguishing characteristics in the hopes of refining treatments. Although Alzheimer's disease is the most common of the dementias, there are many types, even hundreds, of dementias — some reversible, and others, like Alzheimer's disease — irreversible. What is Dementia? Dementia is the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. For centuries, people called it senility and considered it an inevitable part of aging. It is now known that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process and that it is caused by some underlying condition. Symptoms of dementia vary in severity, order of appearance and with the type of dementia. But all dementias involve some impairment of memory, thinking, reasoning and language. Personality changes and abnormal behavior may also occur as dementia progresses. Of the diseases that produce dementia, Alzheimer's is the most common. The disease was named after Alois Alzheimer, a German physician. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps (plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (tangles). Other changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease include a loss of nerve cells in the areas of the brain vital to memory and other mental functions, and lowered levels of chemicals in the brain that carry complex messages back and forth between billions of nerve cells important to thinking and memory. The first sign of Alzheimer's disease may be mild forgetfulness. The disease progresses to affect language, reasoning, understanding, reading or writing. Eventually, people with Alzheimer's disease may become anxious or aggressive, and may even wander from home. The problem of Alzheimer’s disease is considered a growing problem in the United States. As our population gets older our need for elderly services increases dramatically. This means that healthcare costs are on the rise and we need more care facilities for our aging elderly. As we all know in this election year prescription drug prices are a hot topic. Prescriptions for the elderly are getting so expensive that they cannot afford them anymore, therefore relying on some other source to help buy the prescriptions. The toll is not only financial, but proves to cause emotional turmoil for the families dealing with an aging relative. Some of the goals and values of society that are affected by this problem are: the rising costs of healthcare, prescription drug prices, and the toll on the individual and their family. This presents a problem for those who cannot afford it and therefore rely on society for help. It is also hard for a family to put a loved one in an institution. Alzheimer’s disease is non-discriminatory. It can affect any race or...
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