Alzheimer's Disease is relentlessly destroying the brains and lives of our nation's older adults, robbing them of memory, the ability to reason, and affecting their emotions and behavior. Alzheimer's Disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain. The longer we live the greater the risk; "nearly 10 percent of all people over age 65 and up to half of those over age 85 are thought to have Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia" (Anonymous, 2002). The devastation of Alzheimer's Disease affects millions of families in the United States. Alzheimer's Disease costs can be measured in mental, physical, emotional, and financial terms (Clark, 1997). In terms of emotional and physical strains, it is perhaps the caregivers and family who suffer the most for they live with the disease consciously, never losing the knowledge or understanding of what is actually going on. This is not to say that the Alzheimer's patient does not suffer an incredible amount of suffering. Even though they often forget their pain and condition, they are sometimes victims of abuse. In the following paper I will examine two aspects of aging: that of Alzheimer's Disease and elder abuse. I will examine the effects they have upon families, caregivers and the victims. .
"In Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias, problems with memory, judgment, and thought processes make it hard for a person to work and take part in day-to-day family and social life. Changes in mood and personality also may occur" (Anonymous, 2002). "Approximately 19 million Americans have a family member with Alzheimer's; approximately 300,000 cases each year are diagnosed" (Anonymous, 2002). .
At the present time there is no cure for Alzheimer's though symptoms can be relieved to a degree with certain medications. Early in the disease the patient may experience minimal changes "such as forgetfulness and subtle memory loss, without loss of social skills and behavior patterns" (Diseases, 1997, p.