For many, the term “Alzheimer’s disease” is a hazy term for a sickness they do not truly know very much about. It is only when a person who is close to them is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease that they begin to realize the true extent of this especially devastating illness. Alzheimers disease is a very severe form of dementia. Dementia is a brain disease which affects its sufferers to varying degrees. It depends on what kind of dementia they have and how progressive it is as to how much they will be influenced by it. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness which seriously effects an individual’s ability to perform their daily life.
Characterized at first by memory loss, it steadily progresses to where the person becomes only a shell of their previous self. (It is not called the living death for nothing!) Alzheimer’s disease effects the portion of the brain that involves thought processes, memory, and language. And though there’s continuing research into Alzheimer’s disease by pharmaceutical companies, scientists, and doctors, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s.
Many of us believe Alzheimer’s disease to be an illness which is confined to the elderly. While older people certainly make up the majorority of sufferers, younger people can also develop Alzheimer’s disease. An individual is much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease after the age of sixty, with roughly five percent of those in the 65-74 age bracket. It should be noted, however, that developing Alzheimer’s disease isn’t an ordinary part of the process of aging and shouldn’t ever be treated as such.
Alzheimer’s disease could only be diagnosed one hundred percent post mortem until quite recently. Diagnosis was often accomplished by a number of mental ability tests that the patient had to go through to discover the condition of their mind. This regularly led to a mis-diagnosis.
With the arrival of scanners and other specialized xray equipment if Alzheimers illness is suspected, a patient can be referred for tests and a definite diagnosis can now be made. One of the main traits of Alzheimers illness is unnatural clumps in the brain tissue known as amyloid plaques. They also have tangled bundles of fibers in their brain which are called neurofibrillary tangles. Other changes in the brain which scientists have discovered are the death or interruption of nerve cells in the areas of the brain which are vital for memory and thought. Some have speculated that particular chemicals that carry messages back and forth in the brain are lacking. If this is so, it may be the clue to why Alzheimer’s disease develops in the first place. Only time and further research will prove these speculations to be correct or not.