Alzheimer's disease and Long Term Care

Essay by alcapone3000 December 2007

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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease in which memory impairment and disturbances in reasoning and perception are the primary symptoms. It is believed to be caused by increase in a specific protein that causes nerve cell degeneration. The risk of having this disease increases after the age of 70. Increases age is the main risk factor for this disease. There are also genetic causes for this disease. High blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, etc are also other risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (Bauer, 57).

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by cognitive decline and decrease in daily living activities. It is the most common type of dementia. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of the disease but cannot reverse or slow the progression of the disease. Short term memory loss and visual spatial confusion are usually the first signs of this disease. Patients in the early stage of the disease become less energetic.

There are other behavioral changes also like outbursts of violence (Brawley, 65).

The initial symptoms of the disease progress to more serious short term memory loss and difficulty in moving around familiar areas. During the middle stage of the disease patients might retain some form of independence but require assistance in more complicated activities. Also well known skills and recognition of objects and person is diminished in this stage of the disease. The advanced stages of the disease are characterized by incontinence, bed fastness and inability to feed oneself. Patients require constant supervision and are not able to perform even the simplest tasks (Cox, 59).

Alzheimer's disease affects the person with the illness and the caregivers. It is estimated that 1-4 people are caregivers. The disease has a long duration which impacts more on the caregivers. It can cause a great deal of emotional stress to caregivers. It...