Alzheimer's Disease
A slowly progressive disease of the brain which damages and kills the brain cells. It attacks the brains neurons which produce the brain chemicals(neurotransmitter), breaking links between other nerve cells and eventually dying. It is the most common cause of dementia or loss of intellectual function.

Symptoms:

Early Stages:
Short-term memory loss
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Trouble with language and speech
Mood swings
Trouble finding the right words


Medium Stage:
Hallucinations
Paranoia
Getting lost
Repeating questions
Mood and personality changes
Inability to learn new things
Impulsive behaviour

Later Stages:
Inability to communicate with or recognize people
Difficulty swallowing
Inability to communicate
Weight loss
Increased sleeping
Alzheimer's was discovered by Dr Aloise Alzheimers in 1906, after him meeting a 51 year old woman with a rare brain disorder.


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Treatment:
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. Drug and non-drug treatments may help with cognitive and behavioral symptoms. There are ways to reduce the risk such as regularly exercising, having a healthy diet, getting quality sleep and an active social life. Though drug treatment is very important, other aspects such as caring for the Alzheimer's patient is very important. Support and education for care-givers and family members is crucial to the best care of the person with Alzheimer's. New drugs are aimed at targeting the plaque build-up that occurs in the brain of the Alzheimers patient. Immunization strategies may prevent this beta-amyloid protein from clumping and reduce the amount of the protein produced.
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Early symptoms of Alzheimer's has been known to develop between ages 30 and 40 but is very rare. It is more common to see people in their 50's who have the disease. It is more common amongst older people especially those having a close blood relative with AD. Though it is not well proven, females and those who have high blood pressure for a long time are more at risk of getting AD. It is also seen that those living in urban areas have Alzheimer's rather than those living in rural areas, raising questions about lifestyle choices and diets of those living in urban areas.
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The average life expectancy for a person with Alzheimer's is 8-10 years, however some are known to live up to 20 years after the first signs of Alzheimer's emerge. Life expectancy will also depend on the person's age when they have the disease and medical conditions they are experiencing in addition to Alzheimer's. It is seen that women live an average 4.6 years after diagnosis, and men live an average 4.1 years. Other factors that come into play are whether or not patients have a history of diabetes or congestive heart failure. An important element is the quality of care patients receive while suffering from this disease.


It is important for a care-giver to use strategies or routines that will make life as easy and uncomplicated for the Alzheimer's patient. A person who has Alzheimer's may react with frustration, agitation and even aggression when once-automatic tasks become difficult or impossible.

Researchers have discovered that emotions out last memories and that patients with severe memory loss still get a warm feeling from meeting friends and relatives. This shows that those affected with Alzheimer's still feel emotion and care for their loved ones, even though memory loss may force them to forget them and not recognise the people around them at times.


References:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-treatments/AZ00048
http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers-specialist/helping-alzheimers-patient-remember.aspx
http://www.news.ualberta.ca/article.aspx?id=6DDC84A377744DCFAB1D348AE5FE1AEB
http://voices.yahoo.com/helping-alzheimers-patients-meaningful-activities-41274.html?cat=5
http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/symptoms/
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Alzheimer's+disease
http://www.alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers/definition.html