Alzheimer’s

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Have you ever lost a loved one by dying of old age or cancer? Do you remember how it feels to lose them? It’s like losing a piece of yourself. You wish and wish and wish that they’ll get better, and maybe they will. But with Alzheimer’s they never get better.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activity. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions or hallucinations.

Alzheimer’s advances at different rates and ages. The extension of the disease varies from 3 to 20 years. The part of the brain that controls memory and thinking skills are the first to be affected. As the disease carries on, cells die in the other sections of the brain. In the end, the disease will completely take over and the victim will need full attention and care. The loss of brain function will eventually cause death.

As I read the pages off a webslte, I found a section on the different stages of the disease. They are:

Stage 1: No impairment

Stage 2: Very mild decline

Stage 3: Mild decline

Stage 4: Moderate decline (mild or early stage)

Stage 5: Moderately severe decline (moderate or mid-stage)

Stage 6: Severe decline (moderately severe or mid-stage)

Stage 7: Very severe decline (severe or late stage)

Stage 1 is nothing big, normal function, but it’s still there.

Stage 2 is where it really starts. But nothing out of the ordinary. It can easily be taken for symptoms of old age, memory lapses, forgetting familiar names or places such as the location of keys, eyeglasses or other everyday objects. These symptoms are not usually noticed by family or co- workers.

Stage 3 is where the diagnosis begins. In some cases, it is not hard to find, but in others, it can not be seen. People begin to notice deficiencies. Some common difficulties include:

• Word or name finding problems

• Decreased ability to remember names when introduced

• Performance issues in social or work settings

• Reading a passage and retaining little material

• Losing or misplacing a valuable object

• Decline in ability to plan or organize

Stage 4 Is moderate cognitive decline. This Is when medical Interviews can detect= “clear-cut” deficiencies in the areas of:

• Decreased knowledge of recent events.

• Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic, for example, being able to count down from 100 by 7s.

• Decreased capacity to perform complex tasks such as marketing, planning dinner for guests or paying bills and managing finances.

• Reduced memory of personal history.

The affected person may seem subdued and withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.

In stage 5 Individuals experience major gaps in memory and deflects in cognitive function. They need assistance with everyday activities. The victim may:

• Be unable during a medical interview to recall such important details as their current address, their telephone number or the name of the college or high school from which they graduated.

• Become confused about where they are or about the date, day of the week, or season.

• Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; for example, counting backward from 40 by 4s or from 20 by 2s.

• Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion

• Usually retain substantial knowledge about themselves and know their own name and the names of their spouse or children

• Usually require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

Then, slowly but surely, these symptoms worsen and pretty soon they are completely handicapped. It becomes hard for patients to move, speak or even breathe. They need help with what we do naturally and don’t even think about.

Alzheimer’s disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. Overtime, the brain shrinks dramatically, affecting nearly all its functions.

This image shows:

Pictured above, how the two brains compare, the left side is a healthy brain and the right side is advanced Alzheimer’s.

Earliest Alzheimer’s

Mild Alzheimer’s

Severe Alzheimer’s

But this disease is not being ignored, there is an association named, The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association. This association was founded by Jerome Stone, a businessman, in 1980. Also in 1982, Ronald Reagon designated the first National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Week. The national awareness month is in November.

With all this going on, is it really working? Are we really finding cures? My grandmother was diagnosed with the disease. It was very difficult having to watch her slowly pass away. In the end, all they do is sleep, urinate and well, nothing. They can’t even get up to go to the bathroom.

I had to go through this, but because of recent research, maybe you won’t, I believe that there is a cure; we just need to find It, and soon. No one else should ever have to go through this anymore. Find out more on www.alz.org/AboutAD.asp. All pictures are also courtesy of www.alz.org/AboutAD.asp.

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