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Alzheimer's Disease

Essay by   •  March 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,467 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,174 Views

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Many people are left confused and are unsure about what Alzheimer's disease is, how to care for Alzheimer's patients, and how to lower their risk of getting the disease. Research has shown many different ways to lower risk. One being folate intake, another is anti-hypertensive medication, and last nanoparticle radiation is used to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's. There are a lot more studies, but these are the three that I happen to know about. In my paper I would like to answer the following: "What is Alzheimer disease?" how to care for Alzheimer's patients, and how to lower your risk of getting Alzheimer's. I would like also to explain the two ways that research has shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, which include the folate intake and the anti-hypertensive medication, as well as the nanoparticle radiation that is said to slow down the progression.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative brain disease which has three stages (Cutler & Shamek, 1996). First the disease leads to deficits in cognitive function that cause amnesia (loss of memory), aphasia (impairment of language), apraxia (the inability to motor tasks despite intact motor functions), and agnosia (the inability to recognize despite intact sensory functions). Second, various psychiatric symptoms and behavioral disturbances becomes apparent, such as depression, personality change, delusions, hallucinations, and misidentifications. Third, difficulties with activities of daily living come about early in the disease. They affect feeding, dressing, and using the restroom (Cutler & Shamek, 1996).

The first patient of Alzheimer's was first recorded in 1901, and was examined by Alois Alzheimer. Alois Alzheimer was an assistant medical officer at the municipal mental asylum, Frankfurt, Germany. Alois was very interested in dealing with people that have a mental illness (Cutler & Shamek, 1996). Alois's first recording of symptoms of Alzheimer's included rapid increasing memory impairments, the carrying of objects around then hiding them, jealousy towards family members, and patients being paranoid (Cutler & Shamek, 1996).

Alzheimer's disease has received and increased interest in the years since it was first discovered. This is because the affected population is growing. Age seems to be the only clear risk factor for the disease. Researchers have also found that people who carry the gene for the protein, Apolipoprotein E4, are at a higher risk; however, no all people with the gene develop Alzheimer's (Cutler & Shamek, 1996).

Mental status testing is used to help the physician determine the extent of cognitive and behavioral impairment. The patient is asked to answer questions and perform tasks. Example questions may include: "What is today's date?" "Who is the President of the United States?" Tasks may include putting paper in an envelope, naming objects in a photo, or repeating words that have been said a couple of minutes earlier (Cutler & Shamek, 1996).

Brain scans provide images of the brains structures. Computed Tomography (CT), also called Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT), or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are a diagnostic routine of someone who has the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Most families are often worried about telling someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Physicians say that it is best to be hones and let the patients know exactly what is going on. The patients, if able to comprehend, are relieved to know they are not "crazy" (Hamdy, Turnbull, Clark, Lancaster, 1994).

Patients with Alzheimer's disease are prone to a number of accidents. This makes caring for Alzheimer's patients somewhat difficult. In the early stage traffic accidents are often and alert that an individual's mental function are decreasing. Common driving problems include becoming lost and failing to stop at traffic lights or stop signs. This is what happened to my grandmother. Also in stage one patients often lose their way. Many have gotten on trains or buses and some found wandering miles away from home. My grandmother tried to walk out of her nursing home one night because she said someone had kidnapped her and she was trying to get home. Poor Judgment and gullibility are also included in stage one (Conroy, 1996).

In the second stage, patients with Alzheimer's main accidents are repeated falls and a number of personal injuries. The Alzheimer's patient reacts more slowly, which makes it difficult for him/her to regain their balance. Caregivers need to make sure the patient's surroundings are free from hazards. Fire hazards, bathing, poisonings, medication, wandering, and pica are included in this stage. Many patients are not aware of the mentioned hazards and can easily cause harm to themselves (Conroy, 1996).

In the last stage, the patient has a number of physical disabilities in addition to his mental impairment. Because of this, he/she is much more at risk of falling becoming incontinent, and becoming dehydrated. Safety and accident prevention for patients with Alzheimer's disease pose many difficulties for the caregivers. Being away of potential hazards and realizing that the patient can no loner be responsible for his/her own safety is the first step in preventing accidents Providing a safe environment, either at home or in the nursing home, can lessen the strain on caregivers. Patience is required to make an environment safe yet stimulating for patients with Alzheimer's disease (Ronch, 1989).

I have found some research done on

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