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Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease - Essay Example

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In very simple terms, Alzheimer's disease is a disorder or a condition that causes a gradual, although extensive degeneration of the nervous system, often seen as a common, yet unnatural effect of ageing. Most of the cases reported involve people over the age of 60…
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Dementia and Alzheimers Disease
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Download file to see previous pages This brain and neuron disorder seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. This condition, called Dementia, which initially affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, is taken to be a route map of the progression of Alzheimer's. From a medical perspective, the first signs of Alzheimer's disease are detectable from the lifestyle of affected individuals. However, the simplicity of these symptoms often result in them being ignored or dismissed as natural signs of old age.
One of the earliest, yet most unnoticed symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is short-term memory loss. Very often, the patient appears to have skipped memories pertaining to a generation, or a similar time span, which essentially involves the present. Very recent incidents may be forgotten, while those which happened a relatively long time ago are vividly remembered, and oft quoted. Also, individuals and recent acquaintances may be completely forgotten, and may even be mistaken to be some individual the patient had acquaintance with, in the past. One hypothetical, yet practically very common, instance worth referring to is a case where a patient has no memory of his grandson's existence. On seeing the grandson, he may be mistaken to be the patient's son, and the patient may even make attempts to communicate with him in that context.
Further symptoms may include problems with writing and speaking. The patient may forget simple words and make statements that don't make any sense. Familiar and routine tasks may prove difficult as time progresses. Common instruments used in daily life such as pens, towels, etc may appear meaningless to the patient. The patient may begin to dress inappropriately, completely forget to keep appointments and may even forget regularly used phone numbers. This is said to be a loss of the power of "Abstract Thinking" (Guide to Long Term Care.com). Also, repeated and unexplained mood swings and behavioural changes, quite contrary to the normal character are observed in such patients.
As the disease progresses in the individual there may be a marked deterioration of control over his motor neurons, resulting in loss of mobility to considerable extents. The patient may be unable to feed himself, and incontinence may set in. 'Once identified, the average lifespan of patients living with Alzheimer's disease is approximately 7-10 years, although cases are known where reaching the final stage occurs within 4-5 years or at the other extreme they may survive up to 21 years'(Wikipedia, 2007a).
Diagnosis and Clinical Perspectives
Granted that the primary indications of a possibility of Alzheimer's disease in an individual are based on observations of the daily activities of the individual, the fact remains that it is primarily a clinical condition requiring diagnosis by qualified medical practitioners. Such a study shall be based on characteristic neuropsychological features and it must be ensured that no deferential diagnosis shall exist, considering the gravity of the possible result. Such a determination of the neurological feature shall consider the patient's medical history and clinical observation, while any neuropsychological evaluation will include testing and assessment of intellectual functioning over a series of weeks or ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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