University of Central Missouri
Alzheimer’s: The Forgotten Disease
Alzheimer’s disease, while it may not have been widely recognized as a life threatening disease decades ago, the knowledge of this incurable disease is growing with each year passing. With each year we grow as a community, country and world we learn more about ourselves and the way our bodies age. With the advancements in technology we have been able to live longer, thus seeing differences in our aging brains and bodies. Along with our age growing, the technology advancements have led us to have the necessary equipment to do such invasive studies. Scientists are continuing to learn more about this disorder, the symptoms correlated with it, and diagnostic criteria that it must meet to actually be Alzheimer’s disease. While they are learning more about the disease, they are also trying to find new techniques to try and prevent, slow and cure Alzheimer’s disease.
“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose.” –Kevin Arnold
The term Alzheimer’s derives from the founder of this horrible disease, Alois Alzheimer (Kowall & Budson, 2011). Alois Alzheimer’s first encounter with this disease that was reported in 1907 with a woman named Auguste D. Alzheimer examined the 51 year old patient in 1901. The patient’s husband had noted a relatively sudden change in her behavior, dominated by panic, terror, and suspicions of his having an affair with a neighbor. She neglected her housework, hid objects, and fumbled in the kitchen. By the time of her admission to hospital, she suffered from “weakening of memory, persecution of mania, sleeplessness and restlessness”. She was “rarely free from fear and agitation” (Kowall & Budson, 2011)
Description of Disorder While much may have not been understood about Alzheimer’s disease years ago, the knowledge on this disorder has grown and has led to a better understanding of just what Alzheimer’s disease is. With medical advancements and better understanding as a whole, men and women are living longer lives, thus shining the spotlight on age-related diseases. The reason why Alzheimer’s disease may have not been so researched before was because people weren’t living such long lives as they are now. Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related disease that presents itself in older patients more so rather than younger patients. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 50-70% of adult-onset dementia in the industrialized world (Kowall & Budson, 2011) What is Alzheimer’s disease exactly? It is a disease that affects the brain tremendously, and unfortunately it is fatal and currently has no cure. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, and is currently the most commonly found of dementia in older patients (Lu, Bludau, and Juergen, 2011). Dementia is associated with Alzheimer’s disease but they are not the same thing. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, while other diseases are also types of dementia. Dementia alone is not a type of disease, but more so a symptom of many different diseases. According to Black’s Medical Dictionary dementia is “An acquired and irreversible deterioration in intellectual function. Around 10% of people over 65 and 20% of those aged 75 or older are affected to some extent. The disorder is due to progressive brain disease. It appears gradually as a disturbance in problem solving and agility of thought which may be considered to be due to, boredom or depression. As memory failure develops, the affected person becomes bewildered, anxious and emotional when dealing with new surroundings and complex conversations” (Dementia, 2010). Alzheimer’s disease is one the most common form of dementia because Alzheimer’s disease will affect your daily life tremendously as the disease progresses. According to Webster’s dictionary Alzheimer’s disease is a “degenerative brain