The Forgotten Issue of Alzheimer's
Alec Phillips and Clayton McKinley
Why We Chose this Topic
We chose this topic because we both had family members who were affected by Alzheimer's. We realize that it is a serious issue in our society today, and we wanted to learn more about it. Our research will help us and others understand what people diagnosed with Alzheimer's have to endure.
The Effects of Alzheimers
Alzheimer's is a disease that progressively worsens over time. At first, people experience small memory problems, but Alzheimer's eventually develops more serious symptoms including, in chronological order of when the symptoms appear,: mood changes, poor judgement, inability to learn, hallucinations, inability to communicate, seizures, and loss of the ability to swallow. Scientists aren't completely sure of what causes Alzheimer's, but most believe that it is caused by a long term process involving factors such as genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Effects on the Brain
Damage to the brain often occurs as much as ten years before diagnosis of Alzheimer's. The brain develops clumps, or amyloid plaques, and tangled fibers, or neurofibrillary tangles. Neurons slowly begin working less efficiently, and eventually die. After a fairly short period of time, the hippocampus, essential in forming memories, becomes affected. During the final stage of Alzheimer's, brain damage become widespread, and brain tissue shrinks dramatically.
In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer experimented on a patient who had died of unknown causes. What he discovered was that the brain had tangled fibers, a symptom of Alzheimers. This discovery was the first case of Alzheimer's. Many experimental treatments have been created, though they are not proven to work effectively. These treatments include light therapy, vaccine therapy, and stem cell therapy.
Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's