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Alzheimer's Disease: Not Just Memory Loss

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Alzheimer's Disease: Not Just Memory Loss

Khadija Crosbie

PSY 101

Antelope Valley College

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease, a neurodegenerative brain disease, is the most common cause of dementia. It currently affects about 4 million Americans and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, have been associated with patients with this disease. Learning about Alzheimer’s disease and realizing that it is much more than just a loss of memory can benefit the families of those with the disorder as well as society as a whole. The purpose of this paper is to look at the disorder, as well as to discuss the history, symptoms, diagnosis and hopes of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Introduction

        “One of the most severe assaults on intellectual functioning, especially among older people is Alzheimer’s disease” (Rathus, 2013). “Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the human brain that is described as impairment of memory and a disturbance in at least one other thinking function” (Bronstein & Pulst, 2003). When we hear about Alzheimer’s disease we automatically think of older people. This is because this disease most often occurs in adults after the age of 65.

History

In the beginning of the century, Emil Kraepin defined two kinds of dementia: senile and presenile. Alois Alzheimer described the presenile form as a decline of intellect and memory. While conducting a neurological autopsy on the brain of a 56-year-old woman named Auguste D, Alzheimer found out that the women died after a number of years of mental deterioration as well as memory lost. Taking advantage of a new staining technique at the time, he noticed an odd disorganization of the nerve cells in the part of the brain dedicated to reasoning and memory. The cells were bunched up a rope with a bunch of knots in it. He also noted a buildup of cellular debris around the affected nerves, which he termed senile plaques. Ultimately the disease was named after the doctor who was a German psychiatrist as well as a neuropathologist.

Alzheimer's is a very complex disease that contributes to social and economic problem. As the population ages, the number of victims that contract this disease will steadily increase, imposing a massive burden on the health care system. There are many things that play a role in the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is genetic meaning that if the disease runs in your family your chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases.

Four Stages

        Alzheimer's disease can begin long before family members and friends notice differences in their loved ones memory and behavior. Alzheimer s disease usually comprises of three stages. The forgetfulness phase is the first stage and is considered the stage were the loss of short-term memory occur. Patients in this phase will often have trouble remembering names of well-known people and will misplace items on a regular basis. Also, social withdrawal often occurs as the individual becomes mindful that there is something wrong. Problems with speech occur it also becomes difficult to comprehend with normal daily tasks.

        In the confusion stage, the mental deterioration is more noticeable and memory loss is much more apparent. Individuals in this stage will often have trouble recognizing where they are or remembering the date and day of the week. Poor judgment is also a noticeable trait at this state and the individual's personality will likely change to some degree as well. In the final stage of dementia, there are extreme loss of memory and mental abilities. Patients will often not recognize their spouse or children or be able to read with understanding. Eventually, individuals will become bedridden as brain functions disintegrate (Ramanathan 1997).

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