Alzheimers disease

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Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, “a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities (Shenk 14)”. Alzheimer’s is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, make judgments, communicate, and accomplish daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or aggravation, as well as illusions or hallucinations. Alzheimer’s disease is named after a German doctor, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer became aware of changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Dr. Alzheimer found irregular clusters and tangled bundles of fibers. Today, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered signs of Alzheimer’s (Shenk 12-14). Scientists have also found other brain changes in people with Alzheimer’s. Nerve cells die in areas of the brain that are vital to memory and other mental abilities. There also are lower levels of some of the chemicals in the brain that carry messages back and forth between nerve cells. Although many things are known about Alzheimer’s, there are still many things that remain a mystery, such as causes, and how to cure Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain cells which are called neurons. Neurons send messages from one to another, which allows us to think, remember and speak. In each of the neurons there is a branch like structure. Some carry impulses away from neurons (afferent), and some bring impulses to the neurons (efferent). The relaying of impulses from neuron to neuron in the brain makes it possible for one to carry out physical and mental tasks. When plaques and tangles form in the brain, they disrupt the flow of messages to the neurons. This happens when people age, but with an Alzheimer’s patient there are many more that disrupt, which allows them to forget simple tasks. Plaques are abnormally sticky clusters of protein. They disrupt pathways that carry signals from neuron to neuron. Plaque is a deposit of protein mixed with fragments of dead or dying neurons found in the brains of patient who have Alzheimer’s. A tangle is a set of twisted nerve cell fibers found in the cell bodies of neurons in the brains of the patients who ha... ... middle of paper ... ...urrently incurable, and only two drugs--tacrine (Cognex) and donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept)-- have been approved by the FDA for its treatment. Several other drugs are being prescribed more often as their benefits are demonstrated in wider testing. Nonetheless, the mainstay of treatment for a person with Alazheimer’s continues to be good nursing care, providing both physical and emotional support for a person who is gradually able to do less and less for himself, and whose behavior is becoming more and more erratic. Modifications of the home to increase safety and security are often necessary. The caregiver also needs support to prevent anger, despair, and burnout from becoming overwhelming. Becoming familiar with the issues likely to lie ahead, and considering the appropriate financial and legal issues early on, can help both the patient and family cope with the difficult process of the disease. Regular medical care by a practitioner with a non-defeatist attitude toward Alzheimer;s is important so that illnesses such as urinary or respiratory infections can be diagnosed and treated properly, rather than being incorrectly attributed to the inevitable decline seen in Alzheimer’s.

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