Alzheimer's disease is a condition affecting the brain, resulting in a rapid and severe deterioration of mental capacities.
Alzheimer disease was first recorded in the beginning XX century by a German scientist, Dr. Alois Alzheimer.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer noted presence of Alzheimer's disease in the autopsy of a middle-aged patient suffering from an acute form of dementia (mental degeneration).
Because Alzheimer's disease has often struck both men and women in the 40 to 60 age bracket, it has sometimes been referred to as presenile dementia, a forerunner of senility, detected occasionally in the elderly.
This term, however, may be a misnomer, since doctors are now finding that Alzheimer's afflicts older individuals as frequently as it does middle-aged ones. Some research indicates that Alzheimer's may be hereditary, which would help explain its occurrence in the middle-aged as well as in the elderly.

Alzheimers disease symptoms

Doctors have discovered that the nerve cells in the brains of Alzheimer's patients show certain distinct abnormalities. They have cited, for example, the existence of a tangle of nerve fibers, not observed in the brains of normal, healthy adults. They have also located a structure called the neuritic plaque, which is made up of deteriorating nerve endings.
In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, a person's social skills are well-preserved; there may only be occasional and subtle impairments in memory, calculation, speech, or judgment.
It is often difficult to determine a time of onset for the disease. Only after several years do most people with Alzheimer's begin to suffer from severe memory loss. At the later stages, they can no longer recall important events in their lives or recognize such significant people as spouses, children, and siblings. They frequently experience utter confusion and are unable to speak clearly or move with ease. Many patients exhibit a form of paranoia, having fears of things that do not exist. Some are incontinent.

What is the cause of Alzheimer's disease?

Researchers have not been able to discover the cause. Some feel that Alzheimer's may be related to a chemical deficiency. Others speculate that the source may be a virus.
Still, some research has hinted at an excessive accumulation of aluminum in the brain as the cause. Recent research has also indicated the presence of an abnormal protein in Alzheimer's patients, A-68, that is absent in non-Alzheimer's patients. Development of a simple laboratory test could mean better diagnosis, the correction of misdiagnosed Alzheimer's patients, and better treatment at an earlier stage of the disease.
A definitive explanation as to the cause of the disease has not yet been reached.

What is the treatment for Alzheimer's disease?

There is, unfortunately, no effective treatment for preventing or stopping the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.
Numerous medications are in the experimental stages and show some promise.
At present the best therapy for Alzheimer's disease is to keep the patient in his or her most familiar surroundings.
The more active the person, the slower is the progression of the disease. Studies suggest that a good diet may also help to slow the progression of the illness.
Still, most Alzheimer's patients are eventually hospitalized or placed in nursing homes, since family members find it increasingly difficult to provide the constant, around-the-clock care and attention needed.
Recently, support groups have been started around the world to help relatives of Alzheimer's victims cope with their own feelings and make adjustments in their lives.