The main theme of this research project is the analysis of Alzheimer’s disease. This work includes the discussion of the general symptoms and stages of the illness. The topic has been chosen because it is relevant and important to explore. To complete the study only scholarly medical resources have been chosen in order to provide clear and proven information. The aim of the research is to analyze the main stages of this disease and its consequences. Incomparable analysis and cognitive synthesis have helped to divide the material into several units and distinguish their general characteristics. Consequently, the author has been able to define the general features of this disease.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s, disease, dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain degenerative disease, which manifests itself in the form of the progressive decline of intelligence. This disease, the symptoms of which were identified for the first time by Alois Alzheimer, is one of the most common forms of dementia. Older people are more vulnerable to this disease, but there is also a manifestation of it at an early age. Alzheimer’s disease occurs individually with an extensive set of symptoms. In fact, the progression of the disease is characterized by loss of memory. The gradual disappearance of the body’s functions provokes a lethal outcome. The goal of this essay is to analyze the causes, stages, and effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease affects people regardless of their socio-economic status or ethnicity. The earliest age of the disease was recorded in a 28-year-old patient (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). In general, Alzheimer’s disease manifests after 40 years (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). Only the US indicates more than 100 000 deaths per year because of this disease (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). Originally, the physicians wrongly considered this disease as a manifestation of aging or sclerosis of cerebral vessels (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is triggered by degeneration of neurons, but not damage that is relevant to the blood vessels. The common symptoms of the disease allow physicians to understand its diversity (McNeil, 1997). In particular, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are characterized by a gradual decrease in attention and memory (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005).
Moreover, there are disturbances in the thinking processes in combination with the capacity for learning. Patients have the problems associated with temporal and spatial orientation. The problem with the selection of words is accompanied by considerable difficulties, which results in the problems in communication and contributes to negative personality changes (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). The duration of the current process of disintegration of the psyche can last for several years, which not only leads to the suffering of the patient, but also to the suffering of his family and friends (McNeil, 1997). The risk of this disease increases with the presence of some relevant factors. Ripe age of 60 , excessive weight, obesity, head injuries, hypertension problems, and presence of the disease in the immediate family raise the risk of the Alzheimer’s (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). Besides, physicians note that women are more prone to this disease.
The physicians identified a number of key stages of the disease. Each stage includes a unique feature that has a progressive pattern of actual violations of functional and cognitive scales. The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are often confused with the manifestations of the overall aging or with the patient’s response to stress (Lu & Bludau, 2011). The earliest manifestations of cognitive order can be detected in 8 year-olds before the diagnosis of a primary disease. The initial manifestation of symptoms can occur during the execution of certain daily tasks (McNeil, 1997).
In fact, the first phase is called the pre-mild dementia stage. The most obvious symptom at this stage is a memory disorder which prevents a person from a usual recollection of the previous facts. This process concerns the attempts to assimilate the new information. Besides, a person could have problems in a number of executive functions, which include planning, concentration, and abstract thinking (Lu & Bludau, 2011). There are problems with the semantic memory associated with the meaning of the words and concepts of interrelation. This stage can also be accompanied by apathy, as the most sustainable neuropsychological symptom during the entire course of the disease.
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At the mild dementia stage, the memory and aphasia decreases and leads to the fact that the diagnosis is confirmed. A small number of patients in this period indicate the speech disturbances and violations of motor apparatus as major symptoms. The disease manifests itself in different ways with each of the memory aspects. However, longtime facts and habits may remain in primary form (Lu & Bludau, 2011). Aphasia is characterized by a scarcity of vocabulary in conjunction with a reduction of fluency, which leads to a complete weakening of the ability of verbal expression of thoughts. In fact, patients could have problems with movements, which are accompanied by the addition of fine motor skills. Thus, a man can still perform many tasks but starts to need help (Lu & Bludau, 2011).
At the moderate dementia stage, the disease state is deteriorating at a high level. Besides, the person starts to lose the ability to fulfill different activities himself/herself. Speech disorders become an obvious fact because the patient loses access to vocabulary. Moreover, there is a loss of reading and writing skills (Kelly, 2008). A person starts to lose adequate motor coordination with the complex sequence. This stage is accompanied by memory problems, which are greatly deteriorating. As a result, the patient may even lose the ability to recognize relatives. Long-term memory is also aggravating, and deviations that occur in the behavior of the patient become more prominent (Kelly, 2008). The neutral character acquires such manifestations of the disease, as the evening aggravation and vagrancy.
Severe dementia is the last stage of the disease, in which the patient is unable to perform any actions without help. Besides, the patient starts to lose verbal skills (Kelly, 2008). This phase can be accompanied by symptoms of aggression, but apathy combined with exhaustion becomes the most prevalent condition. At a certain point in this state, a patient loses the ability to implement the most basic activities without any assistance (Kelly, 2008). Over time, the patient does not move on the bed and stops eating. The factors in the form of pneumonia and pressure ulcers become the most common causes of death (McNeil, 1997).
The diagnosis requires the exclusion of other diseases, accompanied by similar symptoms. Among such diseases, there are Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disease, brain tumors, atherosclerosis, and stroke. In particular, physicians apply methods of computer tomography in combination with magnetic resonance imaging to provide a clear diagnosis (Perry, 2006). With these procedures, physicians could determine the state of the brain, as well as exceptions to the other diseases. The complete blood count and biochemical analysis determine the presence or absence of hormonal disorders and blood diseases.
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The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is impossible because it is an incurable disease (Perry, 2006). However, there are a number of drugs, the use of which makes it possible to slow its progressive course, as well as to ease current symptoms. These drugs include medications to improve cognitive abilities and memory, as well as drugs that are targeted at anxiety and depression (Perry, 2006). What is more, there is the importance of caring for such patients. The appearance of symptoms that are indicating the possible presence of an Alzheimer’s disease requires a neurologist and psychiatrist consultation.
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable disease of the nervous system. In general, this disease occurs in older age and is characterized by the destruction of brain cells. This pathological process is accompanied by the final memory loss, erratic behavior, and apparent irregularities in the psycho-emotional sphere of man. There are several stages of the disease, and each of them is accompanied by memory impairment, motor deterioration, and reduction of verbal skills. This disease is incurable, but there are a number of drugs that are aimed at reducing symptoms. Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease is a serious illness, which requires significant attention on the part of society.