Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive physical
illness, which causes “plaques” and “tangles” to develop in the
brain, leading to long-term brain damage, writes Rachel
. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and
is named after the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, Alois
Alzheimer (1864-1915), who first noticed the symptoms in 1906.

People with Alzheimer’s disease find they have
difficulty remembering recent events, such as paying bills, taking
medication or having certain conversations. This can lead to
anxiety and confusion as the sufferer’s memory of events and the
reality fail to match up. People with Alzheimer’s sometimes
experience difficulty recognising familiar places or people or find
that their sense of time has become confused. As the condition
develops, sufferers may fail to recognise familiar objects, lose
practical skills like dressing and cooking and experience
difficulties with language. The brain is a very individual organ
and no two people experience Alzheimer’s in the same way. Some
people retain certain skills for a long time, but lose others very
quickly. There are a number of factors that appear to lead to the
disease, for example: age, health, diet and genetic inheritance. In
order to diagnose Alzheimer’s, doctors often use the mini-mental
state examination, in which the patient is tested on orientation,
memory and language skills. A brain scan is then used to confirm
brain damage characteristic of Alzheimer’s. There is no cure for
Alzheimer’s at present, but Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl are three
new drugs that may help to slow the progression of the disease.

For more information contact the Alzheimer’s
Disease Society on 020 7306 0606 or or
Crossroads and Admiral Nurses

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