Consistent mental problems during old age have been described, and recognized throughout history. However, in 1906, a German doctor by the name Alois Alzheimer particularly noted a disease caused by abnormalities of the cells in the brain. One of his patients met death owing to extreme mental problems, difficulty in understanding questions, and confusion. Following her death, while Alzheimer was conducting autopsy in the brain, he noted thick deposits around the nerve cells. Within the nerve cells, he realized there were twisted fibers. Today, this form of brain disorder is called after his name, and the twisted fibers are Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The history of AD can be traced back to ten decades ago, following its discovery. From when it was discovered, experts in the field of science have made breakthroughs in its research. In the 60s, medical experts realized there was a connection between cognitive reduction, and the number of tangles and plaques found in the brain. The medical society therefore officially recognized the condition as a disease, and not an aging process. In the 70s, experts made new improvements in understanding the body of human being as one, and from then henceforth, AD became an important area of research. This maximized attention opened new discoveries in 90s, and increased understanding of complicated nerve cells of patients suffering from AD. Research was further conducted on the genes of AD, and numerous drugs were identified to cure the cognitive signs and symptoms of AD (Peter, 2006).
For the last ten years, experts in science have made progress in knowing the potential environment, genes, and other conditions likely to cause AD. Additionally, they have strived to know the processes that lead to formation of tangles and plaques in the brain, and areas within the brain that are mostly affected. The specific genes associated to early-onset, and late-onset of AD is known; however, the risk factor genes on their own, fails to explain its cause. For that reason, researchers have continued to explore lifestyles, and environment to understand, which role they are supposed to take in the development processes of this disorder. More options for treating AD have been accepted by ‘the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’. Nonetheless, AD remains incurable. The drugs being used today can only cure the symptoms, save for the cause of the disease, and they can only lower the rate at which cognitive reduction is progressing.
In order to understand better, how Alzheimer disease affects the brain, this report will focus on a cross-section of the brain, with one side showing a normal brain, and the other one infected with Alzheimer.
In the brain infected with Alzheimer disease, the brain tissues have shrunk. The grooves found in the brain have widened, and the gyrus, the outer layer of the brain, is equally shrunk. Additionally, the chambers found in the brain, which holds cerebrospinal liquid, are enlarged. At the onset stages of this disorder, the short-term brain memory starts to wear out, particularly when the hippocampus cells degenerate. The individual’s ability of conducting duties also reduces. As the condition further spread in the cerebral cortex, language impairs, emotional outburst, and judgment reduces. As the disorder continues to progress, nerve cells continue to die, and individuals loose the ability of communicating, and recognizing faces. In other words, the fail to control their body functions, and they demand for constant care. This disorder, on average can stay between 8-10 years, although people suffering from Alzheimer disease can survive up to two decades. As shown in the Fig 1.1 below, Alzheimer disease can occur in stages.
The early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer disease entail memory problems. Some individuals who have problems with their memory are characterized with a condition known as ‘‘amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI)’’ (Peter, 2006). Nonetheless, individuals with this disorder exhibit more problems with their memory, while compared with normal individuals of their age, save for their symptoms, which are not severe as Alzheimer’s. Some experts have also identified cognitive, and smell problems as early signs of Alzheimer disease. In the mild stage of Alzheimer disease, other changes of cognitive abilities are noted, and there is more loss of memory. Problems include trouble paying bills, and handling money, getting lost, poor judgment, taking time to perform duties, changes in personality, and small mood. It is in the mild stage, that individuals are diagnosed.
In the moderate stages of Alzheimer disease, destruction is evident in some areas of the brain, which control reasoning, language, conscious thought, and sensory processing. Confusion and loss of memory maximizes, and individuals find it hard to recognize their friends, and family members. They may find it difficult to grasp new concepts, involving multiple steps, carrying out duties, and putting up with new circumstances. Additionally, individuals might experience paranoia, delusions, behave impulsively, and delusions. In the severe stages of Alzheimer disease, tangles, and plaques have entangled the entire brain and its tissues have shrunk. Individuals with severe Alzheimer disease depend on others for care, and they find it difficult to communicate. Towards the end, the individual may spend most of their time in bed as the body fails to function (Miriam, 1988).
Physical activities, nutritious meals, mental stimulating pursuits, and social engagements are some of the recommendation by health experts of reducing chances of contracting Alzheimer disease. The latest research also shows that, the above-mentioned things can go a long way in minimizing the risk of Alzheimer disease and cognitive reduction. Understanding testing and relationships of conditions such as hypertension, obesity, stroke, and heart diseases may assist people in understanding Alzheimer disease. Experts also recommend individuals to undergo early diagnosis for numerous reasons. Early diagnosis and commencing medical attention at the infancy stages goes a long way in ensuring reduced destruction of the disease. Additionally, it helps families and friends to plan about living arrangements, financial issues, developing aid networks, and legal issues. It also offers people a great chance of engaging in clinical tests. In clinical tests, experts test treatment or drugs that are efficient in healing the disease. Families with victims of Alzheimer disease should take lessons in order to know the practical strategies, which can help in giving care for the patients. One method that can help in showing care and concern of the sick person is exhibiting strong network of friends and families, and establishing strong coping skills.
It is apparent that most individuals suffering from Alzheimer disease exhibit tangles and plaques, although only a few individuals with Alzheimer disease have plaques with some showing neurofibrillary tangles. Individuals with plaque exhibit reduced rates of destruction in their life; however, individuals who have neurofibrillary tangles exhibits frontotemporal dementia. As experts in the medical field, continue to know more the roles of tangles, and plaques as seen in Alzheimer disease, the more they get closer in getting a cure and breakthrough for this disorder. Today, the cure for AD is not known, and researches focuses on understanding the disease better, and its cause. Although it might take experts a prolonged period to discover the cure of this disorder, it is supposed that they will establish means of reducing the progression of AD. If this happens, the global suffering of people owing to AD will reduce.