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AlzheimerÆs disease is a progressive brain disease causing severe mental deterioration (Gale, 2001). It is found most often in the elderly. Approximately 10 percent of people over age 65 and 40 percent to 50 percent of people over age 85 will get AlzheimerÆs. The disease is seen occasionally in people in their 30s and 40s. A positive diagnosis of AlzheimerÆs requires a brain biopsy, so it is usually not diagnosed until after death. The brains of AlzheimerÆs patients show atrophy of the neocortex. The hippocampus is also affected. Much of the shrinkage of the brain in these patients occurs in areas responsible for forming memories.

The brains of AlzheimerÆs patients contain amyloid plaques and tangles of neurofibrils (Gale, 2001). Although the neurofibrillary tangles are not unique to AlzheimerÆs, the severity of mental impairment correlates with loss of synaptic connections between brain cells, followed by the formation of neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques are found in the brains of normal people, but occur in much larger numbers in the brains of AlzheimerÆs patients. Neurotransmitters are found in lower concentrations in the brains of AlzheimerÆs patients.

The first symptoms of AlzheimerÆs disease is memory loss for recent events, which is much more severe than that normally occurring with advancing age (Gale, 2001). Patients with AlzheimerÆs disease may remain physically healthy, the mental decline continues, and later symptoms include disorientation, confusion, speech impairment, restlessness, irritability, and the inability to care for oneself. AlzheimerÆs patients typically live from five to 10 years after diagnosis, though with recent improvements in health care, they can live for 15 years or more. The disease is particularly stressful on those who have to care for these patients, particularly as the disease progresses. Risk factors for AlzheimerÆs include head trauma, age, DownÆs synd...

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Alzheimers. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:11, May 29, 2020, from