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ALZHEIMERS DISEASEWe are currently living in the age of technology Our advancements in thepast fewdecades overshadow everything learned in the last 2000 years With theelimination of manydiseases through effective cures and treatments Canadians can expect tolive a much longer lifethen that of their grandparents In 1900 about 4 of the Canadian populationwas over the age of65 In 1989 that figure tripled to 12 and the government expects that figureto rise to 23 bythe year 2030 Medical1991p13 This increase has brought with it a largeincrease in diseasesassociated with old age Alzheimers dementia AD is one of the most commonand feareddiseases afflicting the elderly community AD once thought to be a naturalpart of aging is aseverely debilitating form of mental dementia Although some other typesof dementia are curableor effectively treatable there is currently no cure for the Alzheimer varietyA general overview of Alzheimers disease including the clinical descriptiondiagnosisand progression of symptoms helps one to further understand the treatmentand care of patientsthe scope of the problem and current researchThe clinical definition of dementia is a deterioration in intellectualperformance thatinvolves but is not limited to a loss in at least 2 of the following areaslanguage judgementmemory visual or depth perception or judgement interfering with dailyactivities Institute1996p4The initial cause of AD symptoms is a result of the progressive deteriorationof brain cellsneurons in the cerebral cortex of the brain This area of the brain whichis the largest anduppermost portion controls all our thought processes movement speechand senses Thisdeterioration initially starts in the area of the cortex that is associatedwith memory and thenprogresses into other areas of the cortex then into other areas of the brainthat control bodilyfunction The death of these cells causes an interruption of the electrochemicalsignals betweenneurons that are a key to cognitive as well as bodily functioningCurrently AD can only be confirmed at autopsy After death the examined brainof anAlzheimer victim shows two distinct characteristics The first is the presenceof neuritic plaques inthe cerebral cortex and other areas
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