Alzheimer's Disease

Essay by MelengkeHigh School, 12th gradeA, March 2005

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. It occurs in people with Alzheimer's disease because healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a decline in memory and mental abilities. More than 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's. It usually develops in those ages 65 or older. This number is expected to triple in the next 20 years as more people live into their 80s and 90s. Although there's no cure or way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, researchers have made progress in the last 5 years. Treatments are available that help improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's. Also, more drugs are being studied, and scientists have discovered several genes associated with Alzheimer's, which may lead to new treatments to block progression of this disease. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's takes patience and a focus on the things a person can still do and enjoy.

Those with Alzheimer's need support and affection from friends and family to cope

Most people with Alzheimer's share certain symptoms that include, increasing forgetfulness, difficulties with abstract thinking, difficulty finding the right words, disorientation, loss of judgment, difficulty performing familiar tasks, and personality changes. Everyone has occasional lapses in memory. It's normal to forget the names of people whom you rarely see, but it's not a normal part of aging to forget the names of familiar people and things. Alzheimer's disease goes beyond simple forgetfulness. It may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to mental impairment that destroys a person's ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine.

The course the disease takes and how rapidly changes occur vary from person to person. For some people the progression from simple forgetfulness to severe dementia takes...