Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive and fatal form of dementia, frequently seen in the elderly altering their cognition, thought process and behavior. AD is reported in about half of patients that have a dementia diagnosis; one study states that about 10.3% of the population over 65 years is affected by dementia with an increase to almost 50% over the age of 85. (Beattie, 2002) Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process in humans, but rather found in a group of diseases that affect the brain leading to a decline in mental and physical control. AD when diagnosed has a very slow and gradual course, initially affecting the individual’s short term memory. (Beattie, 2002)
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, affecting more than five million people in the United States and is also one of the most common forms of dementia. Dementia can be defined as a disorder of progressive cognitive impairment severe enough to affect daily functions of an individual’s life. (Fillit et al, 2002)
Early 1900’s a man named Alois Alzheimer cared for a woman who had rapid severe declining dementia, after she died he was able to study her brain where he found atrophy of the grey matter along with plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which when destroyed interrupts the messages sent from the neurotransmitters to the central and limbic regions of the brain resulting in early occurrence of memory impairment in an individual, the disease is already well established before symptoms are noticed in the individual. (Gaurthier, 2007)
Onset of symptoms can usually be seen by the age of 60, and may be gradual, and is categorized by stages from mild to severe, and may lead to a complete dependence by a caregiver. When a diagnosis has been made of AD the individual has many things a to consider and involve with their families that consist of choices in emergencies, procedures, and the care of the individual to long term settings, such as nursing homes, hospice with possible end of life decisions. (Beattie, 2002) An individual’s rate of progress through the stages varies, and symptoms are unique to the person, making it difficult for families to know what to anticipate, but if they are properly educated it may help them be aware of the different course of the disease, potential causes of behaviors, interventions and various treatment that may be used, making the outcome of care be more effective for the family and the patient. (Osborn&Vaughn, 2010)
Early onset consists of mild memory impairment, language problems, personality changes such as withdrawal, and difficulty performing tasks that may require a substantial amount of concentration. (Osborn&Vaughn Saunders, 2010) Symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s disease may be more noticeable, interfering with their independence. Forgetting details in stories, difficulties following directions, delusions, wandering and decreased inability to reason are common signs of AD, along with a change in their...