Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is the most common type of dementia and slowly worsening until it becomes severe enough to interfere with daily life, thus, making life more difficult for the victim and their families. Mental deterioration in the elderly has been recognized throughout history, although, it wasn’t until 1906 that a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, specifically identified a collection of brain cells abnormalities as a disease. One of Alzheimer’s patients had died after years of having problems with memory loss and confusion. Upon their death the doctor performed a brain autopsy and noticed that the patient had a dense deposit of plaques and had several twisted bands of fibers. Now, this brain disorder holds its own name after Dr. Alois Alzheimer and when found in an autopsy, these plaques and twisted tangles mean there is Alzheimer’s present (A History of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2013). Alzheimer’s can strike anybody at any given point, although heath care providers don’t look for Alzheimer’s in younger people. Generally many people who are in their 40s and 50s have early onset Alzheimer’s. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 200,000 people have early onset Alzheimer’s (Younger/Early Onset Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2013). Doctors are still puzzled why some cases of Alzheimer’s appear at such a young age. In a few hundred families worldwide, scientists have pinpointed several rare genes that directly cause the devastating disease. People who inherit these genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s and 40s. When this type of Alzheimer’s is caused by inherited genes it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease” Alzheimer’s is not only hard on its victims but it is also hard on their wallets. The annual cost of caring for one individual with Alzheimer's disease typically ranges from nearly $18,500 to more than $36,000, depending on the stage of the disease. U.S businesses spend more than $60 billion a year, directly from lost productivity and absenteeism by primary caregivers, and insurance costs (About Alzheimer’s-Cost, 2013). The sooner the victim treats the disease the easier it will be on them and their wallets.
Just like a body ages, so does the brain. Many people have trouble with memory loss, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have Alzheimer’s. There are many different causes of memory loss. It all starts in the brain where it has over 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) and each nerve cell connects with many others to form communication networks. Each group of nerve cells have special jobs in which they help us think, learn, remember, see, hear and smell. The brain cells receive and generate energy construct and get rid of waste. Individual cells also process and store information with other cells. There are two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles that damage and kill nerve cells. Plaques are deposits of a protein fragment called “beta-amyloid” that build up in the spaces between nerve cells. Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called “tau” that builds up inside of the cells. Though most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, those with Alzheimer's tend to develop far more. Scientists do not know exactly what role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer's disease. However, most experts believe they play a critical role in blocking communication among nerve cells and disrupting processes that cells need to survive. Scientists believe that as the as damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs and, eventually die, causing irreversible changes in the brain. The death of nerve cells is what causes memory failure, personality changes, problems performing daily activities and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (What Is Alzheimer’s, 2013). Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to