What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The origins of Alzheimer’s disease, and what you need to be aware of.

Alzheimer’s disease is named after dr. Alois Alzheimer who first named it in 1906. The story goes that Dr. Alois Alzheimer “noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).[1]

Dr. Alzheimer’s discovery of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary are still considered main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Since Dr. Alzheimer’s time, another discovery about brain tissue was discovered: Alzheimer’s disease also causes a loss of connection between nerve cells. These nerve cells are what transmit messages between different parts of the brain as well as from the brain to muscles and organs in your body.

3 important things you need to know about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. One of the many horrible things about this disease is the symptoms develop gradually, almost imperceptibly, until the disease becomes so severe that suffers struggle to do regular, everyday tasks.

Despite the medical community knowing about this disease for more than 100 years, there are many myths around the disease and those who suffer from it. Three things you should know about Alzheimer’s disease:

1.       It’s not a normal sign of aging

The idea that Alzheimer’s is part of growing old exists because the average age of people diagnosed is 65. However, in America alone, roughly 200,000 under 65s have what’s known as younger-onset—or early-onset—Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just one reason why you should never dismiss the idea that Alzheimer’s is a disease only older people get. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s is important to help manage the disease, because early detection and management go a long way to sufferers living longer.

2.       Alzheimer’s worsens over time

A progressive disease, Alzheimer’s worsens over the years. At first, memory loss is mind—it’s that fuzzy brain feeling where you know you know something but can’t for the life of you remember what it is.

Then it gets worse. Much worse. Memory isn’t the only thing to go. The ability to hold a conversation or be cognizant of your environment also starts to go.

To put it into perspective, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America.

3.       No cure. But symptoms can be treated

As yet, there are no treatments to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. What we have at the moment are treatments to manage symptoms and make life easier for sufferers and their caregivers. Worldwide, scientists and doctors are attempting to find a cure, but until then the best that can be done is to manage this horrifying disease.

Help is available

Alzheimer’s sufferers are not alone. Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to find information, support and local resources. Visit Alzheimer’s navigator today

[1] https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet


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