Despite scientist's massive efforts to find prevention for Alzheimer's, many people are still affected with this debilitating disease. Doctor Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor, first described this disease in 1906. Doctor Alzheimer was treating a fifty-one year old woman who had trouble remembering things. She could not think clearly, and became less and less able to function. The doctor diagnosed dementia, a brain disorder. When his patient died, Doctor Alzheimer looked at her brain and found that many cells had been destroyed and was also filled with tangled threads. The same damage has been found in the brains of other Alzheimer's victims studied after their deaths (Alzheimer's Disease 10 4). This disease is becoming an epidemic in this country (Harold L. Hamilton 22 6).
Alzheimer's is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by memory loss, language deterioration, impaired visuospatial skills, poor judgment, indifferent attitude, but preserved motor function (www.ninds.nih.gov.health 11). It is a degenerative disease of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex that leads to atrophy of the brain. It is an abnormal accumulation of plaques and by neurofibrillary tangles (malformed nerve cells) (The Columbia Encyclopedia 1267 3).
Although there is no set age for getting this disease, it is seen less commonly in people in their forty's and fifty's, which is referred to as early.
Dementia, Alzheimer's type, or presenile dementia, Alzheimer's (Medical Surgical Nursing 912 8). The brain of the older adult weights less and occupies less space in the cranial vault than does the brain of a younger person. Other changes in the brain that occur with aging include widening of the cerebral sulci, narrowing of the gyri, and enlargement of the ventricles. In Alzheimer's disease, these normal changes are greatly accelerated (Medical Surgical Nursing 913 8). Alzheimer's disease usually begins after the age of 65.