Alzheimer’s Disease: The Importance of Public Awareness

2004 Words9 Pages
Imagine greeting your grandmother and being met with a blank stare. Think about how it would feel to watch as your father forgets how to drive or dress himself. Picture your own mother crying out for her long dead parents and siblings. Try to envision the look on a loved one’s face as you tell them that they can no longer live at home alone. Now put yourself in their place-- slowly losing your freedom, your memory, and your very identity. Welcome to the world of Alzheimer’s disease. This is the reality that nearly fifteen million caregivers and over five million patients must face every day. Public awareness must be raised about Alzheimer’s disease and the people it affects. Alzheimer’s disease was discovered in 1906 by German physician Alois Alzheimer. While studying the biopsy of the brain of a fifty-five year old woman who had suffered some type of severe dementia, he noticed some aberrations in her brain structure. The brain appeared shrunken, with enlarged crevasses in the gray matter. Over a century later, we now know that Alzheimer’s is caused by a mixture of chemical and cellular brain abnormalities and the breaking down of cells in the mind. Most of the defects occur in the cerebral cortex, which is the outer gray matter of the brain and the center of most human-like brain functions like memory, language, and thought. About ten percent of the nerves in the cerebral cortex die as the disease progresses, causing the person to lose previously created synapses (connections between nerve cells). Neurofibrillary tangles, which are abnormally twisted and knotted strands within nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, also contribute to the cognitive impairment. Nerve cells in the brain lose the ability to create vita... ... middle of paper ... ... a disorder that plays a huge role in the United States, and one that needs to be recognized. Public awareness of Alzheimer’s will stimulate research to increase, more support to be made available to those directly affected, financial solutions to be found, and an overall increase in understanding and compassion. By informing people about Alzheimer’s and its consequences, we can truly begin to battle this devastating disease. Works Cited Alzheimer's Association. 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. Annual Report, Washington: Alzheimer's Association, 2011. August, Paul Nordstrom. Brain Function. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. Check, William A. Alzheimer's Disease. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989. Harmon, Dan. Life Out of Focus; Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
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