Alzheimer's Disease: The Onset as Alzheimer's Diseases Term Paper

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Alzheimer's Disease: The Onset

As Alzheimer's diseases is believed to be the "dementing order" because of the recognized changes in the behavior and line of thinking of the person with the said disease. From the researchers' and the physicians' point-of-view, there is a possibility that anyone can get it, regardless of the age. More so, people should realize that Alzheimer's Disease is not really a normal part of aging. It is not something that is inevitable. There are some people who reached the age of 75 and up who are not even suffering from any dementing disorder. Because of this, it should be considered that Alzheimer's disease is actually "an exception, rather than the rule, of old age" (Light and Lebowitz, 1989).

There are enough number of studies that show that not majority of the old-aged people suffer from Alzheimer's disease. In fact, only 1% from the population of 65-74 is with recognized dementia while 25% from those with ages ranging to 85 and above. However, there are other credible studies that show that in the U.S., almost half of the population in the nursing homes are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other related diseases (Light and Lebowitz, 1989).

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A related study revealed that in the U.S., enough government funding is allotted to the care of the people in the nursing homes, particularly those with recognized Alzheimer's diseases. An estimated $24 billion is spent annually to care for the people in nursing homes while $48 billion is spent for the direct costs spent to people with Alzheimer's disease. This is because the population is really getting older. "As the number of Alzheimer's patient increases, the costs of care also increase" (Light and Lebowitz, 1989).

The cure for Alzheimer has not been discovered yet, or so others thought that it is not curable. However, there are ways and means which can help people from trying to prevent themselves from acquiring such disease. These prevention methods will be done once the person concerned understands how Alzheimer can be acquired or who are the possible people prone to have such disease.

The Inconclusive Causes of the Disease

Term Paper on Alzheimer's Disease: The Onset as Alzheimer's Diseases Assignment

Researchers are still trying their very best to solve the puzzle behind Alzheimer's disease and find the clues that will connect to further development of any possible cure. Currently, there is one only way that most physicians prefer to diagnose the Alzheimer's disease and this is by having a through examination of the brain. By examination would mean undergoing through a brain scanning procedure and/or by allowing an autopsy to examine the brains, after of course, the death of a recognized Alzheimer's patient. Based on records scientist who have done some preliminary research and autopsy procedures had actually found some distinguishing damages on the brains of the dead Alzheimer's diseases sufferers (Taylor, 1990).

When scientists look at these sections through a microscope, they see nerve damage. Changes in the brain include what is called neurotic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Plaques can be clusters of "old" parts of nerve cells surrounding a protein in the brain known as beta amyloid. Tangles are twisted protein fibers inside the nerve cells (Taylor, 1990).

The damages found are still from unknown cause. Some scientists revealed that there could probably some substances in the environment that triggers the onset of Alzheimer's. One of the most widely studied substances but also the most controversial is aluminum. Pots and pans, cans, many foods, cosmetics, and even water contain aluminum. This conclusion is brought by the idea that there are significantly high levels of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients; however, others find normal levels (Taylor, 1990).

Others, on the other hand, thought that it is highly probable that the body itself is producing the substances that causes Alzheimer's to erupt. Scientists who supported the idea further revealed that the hormones, which are automatically produced by the human body, can be one of the possible factors causing Alzheimer's. Hormones help the body respond to stress however, they may also cause damage to parts of the body, including the brain (Taylor, 1990).

But all the results are still inconclusive. Until now, there is no definitive information that will provide answers as to how Alzheimer's disease can be acquired, much more information as how can it be cured.

Who Can Get Alzheimer's?

As it is revealed, not all people who reach the age 65 and above suffer from Alzheimer's, so having such a disease is not a normal part of living. However, there are some studies which disclosed that Alzheimer's disease is hereditary in nature and that there are some patterns which would trace the blood connections of the people who have had or are suffering from Alzheimer's. In fact "a genetic basis has been identified through the discovery of several genetic markers on chromosomes 21 and 14 for a small subgroup of families in which the disease has frequently occurred at relatively early ages (beginning before age 50). Some evidence points to chromosome 19 as implicated in certain other families that have frequently had the disease develop at later ages." The same data also disclose that "the likelihood that a close relative (such as a sibling, a child or one or both of the parents) of an afflicted individual" will have the low probability to having the same disease (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

In most cases, such an individual's risk is only slightly higher than that of someone in the general population, where the lifetime risk is below 1%. and, of course, many disorders have a genetic potential that is never expressed -- that is, despite being at risk for a certain illness, one might go through life without ever developing any symptom of the disease" (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

What are the Attributes of Alzheimer's Patients?

Mary Ellen's friends thought she was the perfect mother, wife, friend, and hostess. Her husband George, a prolific author, counted on her to edit his work and manage his schedule. He was the first to notice that she was no longer able to remember her good friends' names, her children's birthdays, or the details of her busy life. During social occasions, she could be seen sitting on the sidelines, answering politely but vaguely if spoken to, but never engaged in meaningful conversation. She was no longer able to go shopping or pay the household bills as she had done for the past 30 years. George was bewildered and could not understand what had happened to his close companion of so many years" (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

This is what just normally happens to a person with Alzheimer's. It should be noted that Alzheimer's disease gradually starts within a person. The occurrence of the symptoms is very slow that it is highly unrecognizable especially on its initial stage (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

The typical attributes of people who may have been starting or who are already recognized with Alzheimer's disease do have problems on memory, particularly the so-called short-term memory. This can be observed when the routine of the person has been dramatically changing. Like for example, forgetting to close the door, missing the normal hours of taking in of the medicines, forgetting where some items were placed etc. Mild personality changes, such as less impulsiveness or a feeling of indifference and a tendency to withdraw from social interactions, may occur early in the illness. As the disease progresses, problems in abstract thinking or in intellectual functioning develop. The individual may begin to have trouble with figures when working on bills, with understanding what is being read, or with organizing the day's work. Further disturbances in behavior and appearance may also be seen at this point, such as agitation, irritability, quarrelsomeness, and diminishing ability to dress appropriately (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

As the day moves forward, the onset of Alzheimer also develops into something which is highly noticeable. In the later stage of the disease, the affected individuals may become confused or disoriented about what day of the year it is and be unable to describe accurately where they live or to name correctly a place being visited. Eventually they may roam around looking unease or lost, will show discomfort in engaging with conversation, seem distracted and will have mood swings, appear uncooperative, lose bladder and bowel control, and, in extreme cases, become totally incapable of caring for themselves if the final stage is reached (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

The final stage of the disease is what is inevitable to everybody - the death. The average course of the disease from the time it is recognized to death is about 6 to 8 years, but it may range from under 2 to over 20 years. Those who develop the disorder later in life may die as a result of other illnesses (such as heart disease) before Alzheimer's disease reaches its final and most serious stage (National Institute of Mental Health, 1989).

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