Alzheimer Disease

By Tonya Bowers
Therapy Director
Abbyshire Place Skilled Nursign & Rehab

Alzheimer DiseaseAlzheimer disease is an irreversible, progressive disease that effects the brain and slowly destroys a person’s memories, and their ability to perform everyday skills. This disease will affect their ability to carry out simple skills that the person may have performed on a daily bases.

Alzheimer disease usually appears in people in their mid-60s and the symptoms vary from person to person. This disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United states, however they have recently estimated that is now third behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 5.5 million American’s will end up with Alzheimer.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.

Scientists are discovering more complex brain changes involved in the onset of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. Before preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, some people seem to be symptom-free but changes are already taking place in the brain. Abnormal
deposits of proteins and tangles are throughout the brain, and once-healthy neurons stop functioning, they lose connections with other neurons, and die.

The damage initially appears to take place in the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential in forming memories. As more neurons die, additional parts of the brain are affected, and they begin to shrink. By the final stage of Alzheimer’s, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.