Alzheimer’s Disease Essay Sample
In order to delve deeper into the study of Alzheimer’s disease, it is first indispensable to elaborately discuss the term ‘dementia’. Dementia does not refer to a specific type of illness. Rather, it is a generic term that refers to a “decline in mental ability” that is so grave that it interferes with the routine life of a person (“What is Dementia?”). Dementia is an upshot of damage to the brain cells and contrary to popular opinion; it is not a part and parcel of normal aging process. Alzheimer’s disease is said to form 60-80% of the cases of dementia reported (“What is Dementia?”).
In this context, it is important to define what Alzheimer’s disease is. It is a type of dementia that is associated with problems in memory, thinking and behavior (“What is Alzheimer’s”).Its symptoms gather force gradually with time, until they become impossible to ignore. Although it is often wrongly linked to aging, doctors have relentlessly tried to show that it cannot be called a normal part of aging. However, the doctors concede that aging is one of the major risk factors. The younger-onset or early-onset of this disease lends color to the fact that not all cases of Alzheimer’s appear during the latter part of a person’s life.
Alzheimer’s disease owes its name to Dr. Alois Alzheimer (“Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet”). A woman died of a mysterious mental illness in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer studies her brain after her death, only to discover that her brain consisted of many abnormal clumps and tangled fibers. These were later referred to as plaques and tangles. Therefore, he greatly redounded to the explanation behind this mental illness and his name stuck as the name of the disease.
The earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include a mild memory loss. The condition is known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (“Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet”). During this phase, the prospective patient of Alzheimer’s suffers from memory problems that are not common for other persons of his age but the problem is not so severe so as to be categorized as a disease. At this stage, the problem largely goes unnoticed as the routine life of the patient is not hindered in a significant manner. Other issues include problems with communicating properly due to decline in the ability to find words while speaking. The ability to reason may also weaken from the previous standard.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Therefore, the problems start to exacerbate with time. This stage is known as the Mild Alzheimer’s Disease (“Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet”). A person may get lost, take a longer while to complete daily tasks and may have a problem in handling money. It is usually at this stage that the problem starts to get noticed and upon further action by the concerned person, may even be diagnosed at this time.
When Moderate stage arrives, parts of the brain that handle language and conscious thought may be impaired. The ability to recognize family and friends may even start to be affected. Confusion bedevils the patient as the ability to learn anything new is almost non-existent. At the stage of Severe Alzheimer’s Disease, the plaques and tangles have spread so much the patient can hardly communicate or fend for itself. The body starts to shut down as the brain tissue shrinks. At this stage, the patient is completely dependent on someone else’s care.
One cannot blink the fact the patients of Alzheimer’s need excessive amounts of attention and care from their loved ones. Doctors have been mesmerized by miraculous changes in the health of patients who have been the subject of unabated attention and care of their loved ones. This disease has also formed the subject matter of many novels. Nicholas Sparks in his novel, “The Notebook”, details the problems associated with Alzheimer’s during the course of life, and also documents the happening of a miracle when the patient for a mere few minutes recalls everything like a normal person.
A single and guaranteed-to-treat formula to treat Alzheimer’s disease has not been invented as of yet. However, scientists continue to endeavor towards an effective solution to this long-standing problem. Statistics indicates that the costs, to treat people with Alzheimer's, may touch $1 trillion by 2050 or may even be higher (Berr). Alzheimer’s is one of the top five causes of death. However, it is unique in the sense that it is the only disease in the top five that does not have an effective solution (Berr).
Several approaches are used to treat the patients of this disease. Firstly, some drugs have been developed to maintain the mental function of the patient (“Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet”). Secondly, the behavioral symptoms need to be effectively managed through drug use in order to make it easier for the caregivers to take care of the patients. Lastly, attempts to slow down or stave off Alzheimer’s disease are being explored by scientists by delving into the root causes of this problem.
Millions of people today in the world are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Every hopeful soul wishes to have an effective treatment available to this disease in the market. Although it is expected to cost extremely high in the earlier stages, people are still hopeful to see the first step towards developing an effective treatment.
“Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet.” Nih.gov. National Institute of Health, n.d. 10 January 2015.
Berr, Jonathan. “Will a cure for Alzheimer’s ever be found?” Cbsnews.com. CBS Interactive Inc., 9 January 2015. Web. 10 January 2015.
“What is Alzheimer’s?” Alz.org. Alzheimer’s Association, n.d. Web. 10 January 2015.
“What is Dementia?” Alz.org. Alzheimer’s Association, n.d. Web. 10 January 2015.
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