Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disorder that results in a decline in memory and a deterioration of many other abilities. In order to completely understand the effect of Alzheimer's on patients and their families, one must be aware of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of this terminal disease. Rapidly increasing memory loss, disorientation with time and place, and confused actions describes this disease. As the disease progresses language, perceptual and motor skills deteriorate, and memory loss becomes more severe.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, in 1906, identified for the first time what is known today as Alzheimer's disease (Alzheimer's Disease). At this time Dr. Alzheimer was working at a mental hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. He there met with a patient, Auguste D. She had begun to show signs of dementia at the early age of fifty-one. Auguste D. would soon become the first person diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Alzheimer's study began on November 26, 1901. Four and a half years after Auguste's symptoms began, she died at fifty-five years old (Altman).
Dr. Alzheimer examined Auguste's brain after her death and noted that "it resembled a withered walnut, dark and dry." He then found two major abnormalities. The first being microscopic bundles, or tangles, of dead nerve fibers scattered throughout the tissue from the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where memory and the higher intellectual functions are located. Second, there were round, freckle-like deposits that would later become known as plaques. "Dr. Alzheimer concluded that he had found a new disease, one that afflicted younger people and mimicked "normal" senility in many ways" (Altman).
There are five most common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The first being forgetfulness and the inability to learn new information. Memory loss usually starts off slowly and progressively gets worse (Alzheimer's Disease).