Imagine waking up one morning and you cannot remember where you are or your own child’s name. This could be a direct sign that you or a family member has Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which means that it affects certain functions of the brain such as memory, logic, and everyday bodily functions. This disease was first described by a doctor named Alois Alzheimer in 1906. He discovered unusual growths of fibers in the brains of woman that had died from an unusual mental illness (National Institute, 1995).
Many people do not realize how severe this disease really is. These people also do not realize how much of a risk there is of developing the disease. Four million people in the United States today are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that about 22 million people around the world currently have this disease (St.George-Hyslop, 2000). Another very interesting fact about Alzheimer’s is that the changes in the brain take place 20 to 40 years before the patient shows any symptoms. About ten percent of Americans have this disease by the age of 65, and about 50 percent of Americans have the disease by the age of 85. People can live well into their 90s, and they still retain most of their memories and control of their bodies (Kahn, 1998). This disease is a disease that everyone in the United States should be concerned about.
Scientists believe that they know what causes this disease to occur. It is caused by proteins in the brain that go terribly wrong. These proteins form clusters inside the brain, and they produce a toxin that affects nerve cells. These nerve cells are then lost, and this affects certain parts of the brain that control certain functions. This directly affects two parts of the brain, the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. These two parts of the brain control memory, reasoning, language, and other bodily functions (St. George-Hyslop, 2000). Alzheimer’s disease has a major effect on not only the patient’s life, but on the lives of the patient’s family as well.
This disease takes a very slow path in its development. It may start as just some short-term memory loss. This means that a person with Alzheimer’s may forget little things, like what he or she ate for dinner last night or why they went to the refrigerator. These symptoms can be overlooked as j...
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...In Kahn’s story (1998) a daughter of a patient was very pleased with Aricept, “’ the reversal of her condition was remarkable. For over a year, I kind of got my mom back (p,18).’”
This disease is obviously a horrible one. It can rip a family apart, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Hopefully, one day a cure will be found, but in the mean time, Alzheimer’s disease has total control over a person who is afflicted with it. It also has control over the family of the person afflicted with it. Almost everyone in this country has some sort of tie to this disease, and this is why more research should be done in hopes of finding a cure.
Kahn, C. (2007, November, 8). New drugs and hope for Alzheimer’s patients. Parade Magazine, 16-19.
National Institute on Aging. (1995). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet.
Retrieved October 22, 2008, from the World Wide Web: http://www.alzheimers.org/pubs/adfact.html
Shenk, D. (2001, November-December). The War on Alzheimer’s. My Generation, 15-20.
St. George-Hyslop, P.H. (2005). Piecing Together Alzheimer’s.
Retrieved October 22, 2008, from the World Wide Web: http://www.sciam.com/2000/1200issue/1200stgeorge.html
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