Friday, July 3, 2009

Alzheimer's Disease Research Paper

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects the brain cells. It is not a normal part of aging and it is also not something that happens inevitably in later life. The disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician in 1906, after he had performed an autopsy on the brain of a dead woman who had experienced severe memory loss, confusion and difficulty understanding questions; and found dense deposits around her nerve cells. It is the most common type of dementia, which is a progressive dysfunction of the brain which results in a restriction of daily activities.

Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed by means of an autopsy, which is a special surgical operation performed by specially trained physicians on a dead body to learn the truth about the person’s health during life and how they died. Scientists can make an accurate diagnosis by performing a history and physical examination and measuring memory capabilities and psychological status checks. Early diagnosis can help the treatments that are available which work best in the earliest stages of the disease. If one feels they are at risk of getting the disease or you have symptoms of the disease, contact your physician and schedule an appointment to have neuro-checks done you. Does it mean that if you forget or misplace something you have Alzheimer’s disease? The answer is, no, you need a doctor to confirm that you have it, because we all forget something sometimes but that does not really mean you have the disease.

The first symptom of the disease is forgetfulness. A person may have trouble remembering events, activities or the names of familiar people. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. In the later stages, a person may forget how to do simple tasks like brushing teeth or combing their hair, because they can no longer think clearly. They also begin having problems speaking, understanding, reading or writing. Later on a person with Alzheimer’s disease may become anxious and aggressive or wander away and eventually needs total care.

Major warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include but are not limited to; asking the same question over and over again, repeating the same story, forgetting how to cook, losing one’s ability to pay bills, getting lost in familiar surroundings, neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes repeatedly whilst insisting they had a bath or have changed clothes and relying on someone else to make decisions they used to make.

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known but some risk factors include, person’s age; Alzheimer’s disease mostly affects people around the age of 65 but some cases have been reported in people as young as 35 years old, another risk factor is family history; scientists believe that genetics play a role in many Alzheimer’s disease cases. If someone in a family had the disease, it is most likely that other people in the same family will have it too. Education, diet, viruses and environment are some of the other causes highlighted.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest national voluntary health organization dedicated to research and helping those affected by the disease, it is estimated that about 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050 the estimated range of people with it will be 11.3 million to 16 million Americans. In a 1993 survey 19 million people said they had a family member with the disease and 37 million knew someone who had it. The United States society spends $100 billion a year on Alzheimer’s disease. The federal government estimates spending $598.9 million on research by the year 2002. A person with the disease lives an average of eight to twenty years from the onset of symptoms. These estimates are according to surveys conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association, who can be contacted by telephone or by visiting their website.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are several drugs like aricept, exelon, cognex and reminyl, that may help symptoms from getting worse for a limited time. Researchers are in the process of finding a cure. Some ways of preventing the disease are; eliminating aluminum exposure via cookware, foil, underarm deodorants, drinking water and drinks packaged in aluminum-lined cartons, undergoing body and brain detoxification programs and by drinking lots of water daily.

Because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, everyone should be involved in the fight to find a cure for it. Individuals can help by supporting the families of those affected and by also volunteering some time with the victims. I spend at least ten hours a week in a nursing home helping these people. If you contact any nursing home or assisted living and inquire about volunteer opportunities, they will gladly give you all the information you need. I will also be participating in this year’s Alzheimer’s memory walk in November at the Dallas Zoo. This is an event held annually to raise funds to help find a cure for the disease. More information about the disease and how to help can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website, They have events throughout the year to help raise funds for research. There you can make donations too. Your contribution can make a difference.

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