past few decades overshadow everything learned in the last 2000 years. With the
elimination of many diseases through effective cures and treatments, Canadians
can expect to live a much longer life then that of their grandparents. In 1900
about 4% of the Canadian population was over the age of 65. In 1989 that figure
tripled to 12% and the government expects that figure to rise to 23% by the year
2030 (Medical,1991,p.13). This increase has brought with it a large increase in
diseases associated with old age. Alzheimer's dementia (AD) is one of the most
common and feared diseases afflicting the elderly community. AD, once thought to
be a natural part of aging, is a severely debilitating form of mental dementia.
Although some other types of dementia are curable or effectively treatable,
there is currently no cure for the Alzheimer variety.
A general overview of Alzheimer's disease including the clinical
description, diagnosis, and progression of symptoms, helps one to further
understand the treatment and care of patients, the scope of the problem, and
The clinical definition of dementia is "a deterioration in intellectual
performance that involves, but is not limited to, a loss in at least 2 of the
following areas: language, judgement, memory, visual or depth perception, or
judgement interfering with daily activities" (Institute,1996, p.4).
The initial cause of AD symptoms is a result of the progressive
deterioration of brain cells (neurons) in the cerebral cortex of the brain. This
area of the brain, which is the largest and uppermost portion, controls all our
thought processes, movement, speech, and senses. This deterioration initially
starts in the area of the cortex that is associated with memory and then
progresses into other areas of the cortex, then into other areas of the brain
that control bodily function. The death of these cells causes an interruption of
the electrochemical signals between neurons that are a key to cognitive as well
as bodily functioning.
Currently AD can only be confirmed at autopsy. After death the examined
brain of an Alzheimer victim shows two distinct characteristics. The first is
the presence of neuritic plaques in the cerebral cortex and other areas of the
brain including cerebral blood vessels....
... middle of paper ...
...988).Understanding Alzheimer's disease.New York: Scribner's.
Brassard, Daniel.(1993).Alzheimer's Disease.Ottawa: Library of Parliament,
Brown, Phyllida.(1992, November 7).Alzheimer's May Not be Linked to Aluminum.New
Carlton University Department of Health Sciences
Evans, Denis, et al.(1989).Prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease in a Community
Older Persons.Journal of the American Medical Association,272(15),1152.
Institute for Brain Aging.(1996).Internet.http:\www.220.127.116.11/aboutad.html
Medical Research Council of Canada.(1991).Presidents Report 1989-1990.
Myers, David.(1996).Exploring Psychology.New York: Worth.
Pollen, Daniel.(1990).Hannah's Heirs: The Quest For the Genetic Origins of
Disease.London:Oxford University Press.
Statement on Use of Apolipoprotein E Testing for Alzheimer's
Disease.(1996).American College of Medical Genetics/American Society of Human
Genetics Working Group on ApoE and Alzheimer's
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