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Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia which is actually the most common of all types. Its also referred to as sensible dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) or primary degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer type (PDDAT) (Cox 5). It's incurable hence terminal as well as degenerative. It was first explained by a Germany psychiatrist as well as a neuropathologist called Alois Alzheimer in the year 1906 hence the name Alzheimer's disease (Cox 7). Alzheimer discovered the disease as he was examining the brain of a woman aged 51 years suffering from dementia before succumbing to it. He discovered that , the woman's brain neurons had some plague like structures as well as tangled filaments. Researchers attribute the condition to a protein referred to as beta-amyloid which is an abnormal protein that poisons the brain (Cox 15). The formation of this protein has though never been scientifically explained. Modification of the gene Applipoprotein E causes the deposit of this destructive protein (Cox 19).
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This disease is commonly found in aged people. The disease can however attack the young but the old are more vulnerable. The average prevalence of the disease in the world is quite high with researchers approximating that 50% of those celebrating their 18th birthday stand a risk of an attack (Selai 101). Other factors besides age which predispose people to the disease include: family history of Alzheimer's, stress, critical injury or illness, lack of adequate physical as well as brain social activity, and lack of a good as well as a balanced diet (Selai 103). Ones race can make him/ her vulnerable to the condition. A research carried out in New York by the American Alzheimer's Association indicates that African Americans are four times more vulnerable to the disease than their white European counterparts (Selai 105). The disease affects more women than men and always results to death about 3 to 15 years after the disease symptoms start showing (Selai 107).
The disease affects its patients in a variety of ways. The effects range from physical as well as psychological and brain damage. The diagnosis of the disease therefore involves a brain autopsy as well as a physical and psychological examination(Selai 108) . These diagnosis procedures help to easily sniff out the manifestations of the disease. The disease affect its sufferers psychologically to an extent that they are unable to perform their normal daily routines, and have memory lapses (Selai 109). According to the discover of the condition Alzheimer, the disease comes with other psychological manifestations such as time as well as place disorientation, poor as well as decreased judgment, language problems, abstract thinking problems, misplacing things as well as placing things in crazy places where they don't belong (for instance, a sufferer of the condition can place shoes in a refrigerator), mood swings (for instance, victims can cry or get angry without a good reason to do so), personality changes characterized by behaviors such as confusion, suspicion, paranoia, and irrational fear. Other effects described by the discoverer are: initiative loss characterized by passivity as well as the need to get prompted to do ones' every day routine, agitation characterized by behaviors such as moving around the house without a specific thing one wants to do and wandering away from home (Selai 111).
The disease also presents with several physical symptoms. These include: loss of strength, loss of body balance, loss of the ability to perform simple tasks as well as simple physical activities, loss of bladder as well as bowel control, and loss of the power of smell. These physical signs are progressing symptoms of the disease (Yale 57). At later stages, the disease presents with increased loss of smell which eventually causes lack of appetite as well as weight loss. Ultimately, the disease causes deterioration of all mind as well as body functioning. The disease gets worse such that its victims reach a point of being unable to swallow even fluids and the end result is death (Yale 59).
Alzheimer's disease causes a slow but progressive destruction of brain neural cells. Although the destruction of brain Cells is a normal phenomenon which occurs as one ages, the destruction characterizing Alzheimer's disease is so rapid that it causes a destruction of the brain (Yale 58). This brain destruction leads to the loss of the brain's ability to function well. One part of the brain greatly affected by the disease is the occipital lobe. Occipital lobe of the brain is the part of the brain that processes the information from the eyes. It enables us make sense of what we see with our eyes. Its destruction therefore leads to visual hallucinations (Yale 59). This part is however not affected by other forms of dementia for reasons not yet explained. Destruction of the occipital lobe by the disease also results in the loss of the ability to recognize objects (Yale 59).
The parietal lobe is also affected by the disease. The parietal lobe is the part of the brain that helps us in integrating our senses (Yale 59). The left parietal robe is more dominant since its the one that plays a more pivotal role in structuring information so as to allow us to carry out exercises such as reading and writing, calculating, perceiving objects normally, and communicating. Destruction to this lobe by the disease therefore renders the sufferer unable to carry out these exercises. Other effects of the damage are: Gerstmann's syndrome characterized by inability to distinguish between left and right and inability to point to named fingers . Other symptoms of damage to this area of the brain include: apraxia and impairment to senses such as the sense of touch (Yale 60). The right lobe of the brain is considered less dominant. The work of this lobe is to receive information from the occipital lobe. It is the lobe that enables us to get a picture of the world around us. Damage to it therefore results to lack of the ability to recognize faces as well as objects and surroundings. This is what is referred to as visual agnosia. Damage to this lobe also causes the inability to carry out skilled movements well (Yale 61).
Temporal lobes of the brain is the brain parts which are essential episodic memories. This is the memory that enables one to recall things like where one has kept certain objects such as keys etc. This memory requires encoding. When one has encoded well the next thing is to retrieve the encoded information. Damage to this lobe therefore results in the inability to encode information and retrieve it (Arai 158).
Since there is no known cure for this condition, Care givers should adopt several strategies to slow it down. Care givers for instance should learn what causes problems to the victims and then develop appropriate strategies to respond to that (Arai 158). Agitation in the victim for example can be as a result of poor lighting, noise and furniture arrangement changes. The caregiver should therefore either remove the victim from the agitating environment or change it to make it comfortable. There are several government operated social services for victims of the disease as well as their families (Arai 163). Apart from these government operated facilities, we also have private foundations and other organizations which assist the patients of the disorder as well as their families. Senior spectrum is a case in point. This organization provides information and support for caregivers as well as respite care. There is a website that provides a forum where people can discuss issues such as long distance care giving as well as financial and legal services for such patients (Arai 164).