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Alzheimer's Disease

            Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works. It is a condition of unknown origin that causes gradual loss of abilities in memory, thinking, reasoning, judgment, orientation and concentration. It usually occurs in the elderly population starting around the age of 65 years old. As the individual gets older, the risk of developing AD becomes greater. There are an estimated number of two million victims of this painful disease and the number continues to go up. Even though there is no physical pain associated with this disease, there are a great deal of emotional pain from both family and friends of the patient (Gruetzner 1988). .
             Doctor Alois Alzheimer is whom Alzheimer's Disease is named for. He was the one responsible for the first discovery of the disease in 1906. He had performed an autopsy on a 51-year-old woman who had passed away from what was believed to be an unusual mental illness. She had displayed signs of problems with her memory and disorientation. Upon his surgery, he found abnormal clumps in what is now called senile or neuritic plaques and tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary tangles (Alzheimer Facts). These fibers were found in large numbers in the cytoplasm of nerve cells. To Alzheimer, it seemed that that must have been interfering with the proper function of healthy cells. The results of the findings were published and through the years, more research was done, but the importance of the disease was not yet recognized. .
             At first, AD starts off slowly usually lasting about two to four years. Symptoms include, memory loss, confusion and disorientation, speech and language disturbances, impaired judgment, difficulty completing familiar tasks and personality and mood changes. As stage two of AD develops, the symptoms of stage one will intensify and can last from two to ten years.

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