Understanding Alzheimer's Disease Essay

1930 words - 8 pages

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

With all of the advanced technology that the medical field possesses today, there is still suffering that occurs from incurable diseases. Alzheimer's Disease is one of those incurable diseases that take the lives of many today. This paper will examine this disease thoroughly by looking at its definition, and discussing general information, facts, and figures. The cause of Alzheimer's Disease, and the much thought about question of if it is genetic or not will disputed. Also the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer's Disease will be addressed. Included will also be tips on how to make the life of an Alzheimer's patient easier.

What is Alzheimer's Disease? "Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, a neurologic disease characterized by loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living, lasting at least six months, and not present from birth. AD usually occurs in old age, and is marked by a decline in cognitive functions such as remembering, reasoning, and planning."(Robinson, 1999). A summary of other definitions found in other sources is: Alzheimer's disease is a little known-about, but common, incurable or chronic brain disease that destroys the cells of the brain, and causes gradual loss of mental function and troublesome changes in behavior. The disease is thought to attack the parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling thought, memory, and language.
Along with this complex definition comes abundant general information, facts and figures. From the time in which a person first develops symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease to the time of their death is on average eight years, although this time may be as little as one year to as long as twenty years. Following only heart disease, cancer, and strokes, Alzheimer's Disease is the fourth leading cause of death in adults. Currently there are approximately two to four million Americans that have AD, and due to the fact that the population as a whole will age, by the middle of the 21st century, that number might reach 14 million. Rarely does AD strike people in their 40s or 50s, and when it does it is considered to be a subdivision called early-onset AD. Elderly people age 65 or older is the class most often effected by Alzheimer's Disease. Three percent of all people age 65 to 74 have Alzheimer's. Nineteen percent of those between the ages of 75 and 84 are affected, and for those over age 85 forty-seven percent are affected. The average cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease is considerable, and is approximately $174,000 per person over the course of the disease. This figure is for those persons who can be cared for at home by a friend or family member. If the condition is bad enough and the person's caregiver has to seek outside help, such as a nursing home, the cost rises. (Robinson, 1999)
By reading all of these startling facts one may wonder...

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