Alzheimer’s is a disease that gradually destroys cognitive abilities and memory and, eventually, the ability to carry out everyday tasks. It is a chronic, progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. The connections between brain cells begin to degenerate and die, causing a gradual deterioration in memory and cognitive function. At this time, Alzheimer's has no cure. Approximately, there are 5.3 million people in the United States that have Alzheimer's disease (Lewis, Dirksen, Heitkemper, Bucher, & Camera, 2011, p.1521). Present management strategies including medication may temporarily improve symptoms. Symptoms usually begin after age 60, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. It is much less common for individuals 50 years old and younger to get Alzheimer's disease. When AD develops in an individual younger than 60 years old, it is referred to as early-onset AD (Lewis et al., 2011 p.1521).
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among the elderly, causing more than 60% of all cases of dementia (Lewis et al., 2011 p.1521). Although it occurs most often in older adults, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Dementia is a loss or dysfunction of memory, orientation, judgment, and reasoning that interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Physicians normally diagnosis dementia when two or more brain functions such as language skills or memory loss are significantly impaired (Lewis et al., 2011 p.1518). Dementia ranges in severity from the early (mild) stage to the late (severe) stage. During the early stage of dementia, patients have changes in cognitive function. Patients may have complaints of mild disorientation, memory loss, or judgment (Lewis et al., 2011 p.1519-1520). At the late stage of dementia, a patient must depend completely on others for their ADL’s. They are unable to swallow, understand words, and walk independently (Lewis et al., 2011 p.1518).
In 1906, a German...