The basics of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is a tragic affliction that can cause a loved one to be unable to remember even the most basic of emotional connections. It can be a tough problem for any family to face, and in this article, we'll discuss some of the basic facts about Alzheimer's in order to give you a more complete understanding of the disease.

Alzheimer's disease is actually a form of dementia, a mental disorder that can cause a person to be able to lose the ability to perform the normal activities in their daily life. Alzheimer's is the most commonly occurring form of dementia, and as many as 4.5 million Americans alone suffer from the disease. At the current time, we don't have any type of cure for the disease, only preventative measures to help to stave off the disease's rate of damage. The disease most commonly occurs in those that are of age sixty or older, and the risk of contracting it increases as a person ages. As a matter of fact, those aged 85 and older face approximately a fifty percent risk of having the disease. That's not to say that the disease is simply caused by aging; scientists are unsure as to why some people become afflicted with the disease while others don't.

Named after a German doctor, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, the disease was discovered when Alzheimer was performing an autopsy on a woman who had an unexplainable mental issue. He was shocked to find that within the woman's brain were lumps that appeared to be abnormal. In the scientific community, these lumps would become known as amyloid plaques to those who study Alzheimer's. Also, he found the presence of a certain type of fiber in the brain that was abnormal; these were also due to the presence of the Alzheimer's disease, and the medical community would come to know them as neurofibrillary tangles. That laid the groundwork for our understanding of the disease as it stands today. In the meantime, we've also discovered that in patients with Alzheimer's, nerve cells that are located in the memory section of the brain tend to die off. Also, there may be a lack of brain chemicals that can send messages to and from the memory centers of the brain. These two symptoms may explain the reason that patients with Alzheimer's experience memory problems.

Alzheimer's disease takes a while from the onset until it becomes a serious problem. Patients may first experience a certain degree of forgetfulness, and their problem solving abilities may suffer. As the disease progresses, more and more problems will be evident. The sufferer may eventually begin to forget the people and places that are the most familiar to them, and it may lead them to go through emotional trauma. All of the confusions that they face may manifest themselves in anger or sorrow, and when the disease fully takes hold, they may not be able to live on their own. One tragic aspect of the disease is that it's impossible to tell for sure if someone is coming down with Alzheimer's. The only way that a doctor can completely confirm the presence of the disease is to perform an autopsy after the patient has died.

Now that you know more of the basics about the disease, you can tell how the disease progresses and exactly what a problem it can be for both the patient and their loved ones.

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