Alzheimer's disease is a progressively debilitating condition that occurs in stages, from pre-Alzheimer changes in brain cognitive functioning to late stage deterioration. The disease process includes memory loss, lack of ability to perform formerly easily carried out higher-motor skill activities, and behavioral-cognitive deterioration. The disease process includes dementia as a component, and, may be a mix of genetic, environmental and natural human aging factors. At present there is no cure for the disease, and while there are experimental treatments, their effectiveness is primarily in early stages, forestalling some of the more debilitating aspects of the condition. To date it is not reversible and can often be considered a causative factor in death in a proportion of the elderly. Most people with Alzheimer's may be able to be cared for at home by spouses and other family members, such as adult children, but in the later stages need to be placed in institutional settings because of the high need and demand for care that is out of the abilities of non-professional care-givers. As a disease, it may be characterized by behavioral changes including silence, violent physical and emotional outbursts, and partial to total memory loss, including loss of self-perception. This paper will draw from recent literature to explore the medical-psychological research ongoing into Alzheimer's disease.
[...] (Freund-Levi et al: 167-168) Research into Alzheimer's disease is still in relatively early stages the degree of understanding of the course of the disease is not very thorough, as admitted by the researchers into the condition. There is more known about pre-clinical AD, early AD, and moderate AD than there is known about late-AD, except from observation of the impact of the final stages on the patients. (Mickes et al, 2007) Though Boutet, Milgram and Freedman contended, in their research paper that it is the frontal lobes which are most impacted in early Alzheimer's Mickes et al. [...]
[...] (Giovanetti et al: 455) This paper has demonstrated that research into causes of and progression of Alzheimer's disease is still in very early stages. There is a difference in the research results and hypothesis of early onset causes and progress of deterioration. The area of the brain, the actual pathological changes, observed, is not understood, in terms of the reasons for why changes are happening or the rapidity of the changes. Therefore, while we now think this is an incurable condition, there is always a possibility in time new information will change the way we understand Alzheimer's. [...]
[...] Autopsies of AD patients, which is one of the main ways that doctors can study late-stage AD, reveal there may be a “10-stage process” of “neurofibrillary degeneration” which starts in entorhinal cortex and then proceeding to affect the hippocampus, the anterior temporal cortex, the inferior temporal cortex, and the middle temporal cortex.” (Mickes et al: 703) The involvement of the frontal regions of the brain is a later development, which would imply that the disease process may be going on unnoticed for many years prior to obvious symptoms. [...]
[...] (Mickes et al: 703) Thus, this paper reveals the degree to which research into the causes of and the potential course of the disease is observable after Alzheimer's is diagnosed, but the reasons for the brain deterioration is still speculative. A study by Logsdon, McCurry and Teri (2007) discussing the prevalence of behavioral changes in Alzheimer's notes that dementia, while it is very disturbing to witness, is not necessarily untreatable. The study examined a variety of approaches which have been proposed in a variety of care settings, from home to institutional, to reduce the anxiety and the emotional and sometimes physical outbursts of patients with dementia, which is associated in middle to later stages of Alzheimer's. [...]
[...] pathology versus normal aging lies in extent of neuropathology and not the region affected.” (Boutet, Milgram and Freedman: 270) The frontal lobes of the brain are areas which are key to cognitive functioning including “flexibility, inhibition, problem solving, planning and monitoring of short- term memory information.” (Boutet, Milgram and Freedman: 271) The presence of lesions is usually consistent with decline in functioning, which can be determined through a series of tests, such as “visual reversal tasks”. (Boutet, Milgram and Freedman: 271) These changes are found both in non- human animals, like canines, and, as the tests show, in human beings as well. [...]
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