Alzheimers Disease

Essay by jeff2College, UndergraduateA+, October 1996

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Alzheimers Disease

What is Alzheimers Disease? The most common form of dementing illness, Alzheimers Disease (AD) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior. The person with AD may experience confusion, personality and behavior changes, impaired judgment, and difficulty finding words, finishing thoughts or following directions. It eventually leaves its victims incapable of caring for themselves.

What happens to the brain in Alzheimers Disease? In AD The nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls memory, thinking, are damaged, interrupting the passage of messages between cells. The cells develop distinctive changes that are called neuritic plaques (clusters of degenerating nerve cell ends) and neurofibrillary tangles (masses of twisted filaments which accumulate in previously health nerve cells). The cortex (thinking center) of the brain shrinks (atrophies), The spaces in the center of the brain become enlarged, also reducing surface area in the brain.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimers Disease? Alzheimers Disease is a dementing illness which leads to loss of intellectual capacity. Symptoms usually occur in older adults (although people in their 40s and 5Os may also be affected) and include loss of language skills such as trouble finding words, problems with abstract thinking, poor or decreased judgment, disorientation in place and time, changes in mood or behavior and changes in personality. The overall result is a noticeable decline in personal activities or work performance.

Who is affected by Alzheimers Disease? Alzheimers Disease knows no social or economic boundaries and affects men and women almost equally. The disease strikes older persons more frequently, affecting approximately 10% of Americans over age 65 and 47% of those over age 85.

Is Alzheimers Disease hereditary? There is a slightly increased risk that children, brothers, and sisters of patients...