This paper covers what the disease Alzheimer’s is and how it comes about. It includes research from relevant sources incorporating symptoms; how to prevent it, and the treatments that can help slow down the process of memory loss. Alzheimer’s is becoming more and more common and today there has not been a specific treatment, but researchers are continuing the hunt to not just slow down the process of memory loss, but to put it to a halt. They are also trying to find more accurate ways to prevent this disease. Early researchers found how it came about and what happens to the brain and the neurons, but it doesn’t stop there. Alzheimer’s is a disease that unfortunately affects not just the person with the illness, but the caregivers as well as family and friends around this person. That is why it is important for individuals to be informed of this disease in order to have empathy for those who have it and to know the symptoms that come along with it.
Today in America 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, a tragic disease robbing away years of precious memories and changing the personality of individuals, making them a stranger to family and friends. One in eight elderly Americans can no longer recognize their family members or recall little memories such as what they ate for supper or are even unable to remember their history and many other important memories in their lives (Alzheimer’s Association, 2012). Although there is not a specific cure yet, researchers are working robustly to discover treatments and preventions. This paper will cover specifically what Alzheimer’s is, the causes of the disease, symptoms, prevention, and treatments to create a better understanding for this ill-fated disease. What exactly is this disease that is affecting the memory of so many Americans? Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It causes problems with memory, behavior, and thinking. As time goes on in the sufferer’s life, the symptoms slowly become more apparent and gradually worsen, and unfortunately the greatest risk factor, aging, is inevitable. Most people who suffer from this disease are at age 65 or older. When this disease is first diagnosed, memory loss is minor, but as time goes on, individuals are no longer able to keep a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s has become the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and those affected by this disease live an average of eight years from the time of diagnosis (Alzheimer’s Association, 2012). This disease consists of three stages. In the first stage, cognitive impairment is so minor that only those who are very close to the patient notice any changes at all. Many of those who are suffering from this disease may not even notice the changes, which can cause them to continue a regular lifestyle without being treated. In stage two, cognitive impairment becomes strikingly worse, to the extent that those who have never met the patient notice a change in personality and cognitive abilities. In the final stage, the last and most serious, the patient shows all of the symptoms to severe Alzheimer’s, including physical deficits such as: unsteadiness, repeated falls, and urinary problems (Ronald, 2001). As time passes, conditions worsen and individuals eventually move up to the higher stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Although scientists are not certain on exactly what they can do to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, they have come up with numerous reasons as to how it comes about. The most obvious reason is age. Individuals are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they get older because plaque and tangles form in the neurons of the brain with age. An amyloid is a “gummy protein” that builds up in the brains of those affected with Alzheimer’s. Millions of these amyloids form and embed between brain cells and in the brain’s blood vessels (Tanzi et al, 2000). As more and more amyloids become present, they crowd out