Over four million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
disease (1). One of those is my grandfather. He has suffered from
Alzheimer’s for almost 8 years. I have watched my grandfather slowly
decline and forget things such as where he lived, my name, and even
how to talk. Many times I was upset and confused and often puzzled at
the way he acted. I knew something was seriously wrong because he
could never remember anything and often had tears in his eyes. I felt
angry when he didn’t remember who I was. Eventually, he could no
longer put together a sentence that made sense and he relied on others
for total care. We have been forced to place him in a nursing home,
and watch him decline more rapidly. I would like to learn more about
Alzheimer’s so that I might be educated more about the disease and the
current research taking place regarding the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that attacks the brain
and slowly kills brain cells. The disease causes severe changes to
occur in the brain. The disease moves slowly and begins with mild
memory problems that increasingly get worse until the brain begins to
shut down vital functions. Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s
ability to remember, think, and use language correctly. The causes
for Alzheimer’s are not yet entirely clear and there is no known
cure. Sadly, many think that the early signs of Alzheimer’s are
merely signs of normal aging; therefore, the individuals go
Progressive mental deterioration has been recognized for many years.
However, it wasn’t until 1906, when a German physician, Dr. Alois
Alzheimer, identified the abnormal brain cells that caused the
symptoms when he performed an autopsy on a woman that had died after
suffering years of memory loss. When he dissected her brain, he
discovered coiled deposits around the nerve cells, called neuritic
plaques. He also discovered twisted bands of fibers, or
neurofibrillary tangles, inside the nerve cell in the brain. However,
even after this discovery, the disease still wasn’t recognized as a
major disease until 1970, when neurological research began to expand.
This degenerative brain disorder has since, been named after Dr.
Alzheimer. Even today, doctors use the same technique that Dr.
Alzheimer used to observe the plaques and tangles in the brain. (2)
Studies show that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases
with age. Almost 20 percent of Americans between the years of 75 and
84, and almost half of those that are 85 years and older suffer from
Alzheimer’s disease (3). One out of every 10 persons that are 65
years of age and older are said to be victims of Alzheimer’s disease,
yet even some early-onset victims might be in their 40s and 50s (4).
Many believe that if an individual develops...