Alzheimer’s disease, popularly known as AD, is an irremediable, progressive ailment of the brain that destroys brain cells responsible for executing brain roles such as memory and thinking. Alzheimer disease destroys some brain faculties making the person unable to perform even the simplest tasks. To begin with, the disease affects regions of the brain, which manage language, memory and thought.
Thus, women suffering from Alzheimer disease find it hard to memorize things that have occurred lately and in most cases, they cannot even remember the names of people conversant to them. As time goes by, the symptoms become ubiquitous and worse. The disease also affects men but not vicious as compared to women.
For instance, women like men suffering from Alzheimer disease cannot recognize family members, experience some speaking difficulties and they loose their ability to read and write. Additionally, they forget to do even simple things like combing hair and brushing their teeth.
With time, they become very nervous and belligerent, wandering far away from home never to return back as they cannot remember the way back home.
The symptoms of Alzheimer disease become prevalent the age of 60. This means that as one gets older, the risks becomes high. Notably, research shows that the disease leads to dementia- a disease common among older people- men and women. Dementia is a brain disease characterized by the loss of cognitive functioning.
For instance, persons suffering from dementia have remembering, thinking and reasoning intricacies, which end up affecting their daily activities. So far, statistics reveal that there are over 5.1 million people suffering from Alzheimer disease in United States alone and the disease affects more women than men (U.S National Institute of Health, 2010, p.1).
So far, medics are yet to identify the real cause of Alzheimer disease. Additionally, medics are busy doing research to identify how the process starts and whether brain damage occurs 10 to 20 years prior to the appearance of first symptoms. The brain changes are the same in both men and women suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Nevertheless, some medical practitioners believe that it all starts with the development of tangles in the brain especially in the entorhinal cortex and affects more women than men. Other regions of the brain may also develop plaques. Further development of the plaques and tangles within the brain regions hampers the normal functioning of the healthy neurons. Eventually, the neurons become less efficient and cannot communicate effectively with each other; consequently, they die leaving the person in big problems.
The tangles and the plaques continue to damage the entorhinal cortex and eventually spread into a nearby region, hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for memory. There is also a significant increase in the death of the neurons leading to the shrinking of the affected regions.
The society has mixed perceptions on the signs and symptoms of the disease. In most cases, they associate them with disability. Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly making it hard for medics to establish the whole process.
Several neuropsychological testing reveals the dominance of mild cognitive intricacies eight years before the real diagnosis. Some of the common early symptoms include memory loss, which affects the person’s ability to remember or even get new information.
In the early stage, persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience memory loss, language difficulties, changed perceptions (agnosia), and difficulties in moving from one place to another, apraxia. At this stage, the disease does not impair all memory capacities. Even if it affects these memory capacities, the extent of damage is not uniform across all memories.
For example, research shows that the episodic memory responsible for remembering past happenings, the semantic memory responsible for recognizing learned facts, and the implicit memory of how the body works has lesser damages as compared to other memory capacities. This problem is more prevalent in men than in women.
Additionally, both men and women experience language problems like hesitancy of words and dwindling vocabulary hence, the penury of spoken and written language. Nevertheless, the person can still perform fine motor tasks for example, walking, eating, writing, and drawing (Forstl, H. & Kurz, 1999, pp. 288-290).
The second stage of symptoms is the moderate. Here, the early signs and symptoms starts to deteriorate and eventually hinders the independence of a person. In most cases, this effect is dominant in men. On the other hand, women also experience speech difficulties and become prevalent-paraphasias.
With time, they loose the ability to read and write. The memory loss problem also worsens and the person cannot even recognize family members. This stage exhibits behavioral and neuropsychiatric changes such as tetchiness, labile effect, outbursts, itinerancy, sundowning and aggression.
In the advanced stage, the both men and women cannot perform any task individually. There is complete loss of speech characterized by single words and phrases. Nevertheless, although such persons cannot communicate effectively, they understand and can answer using emotional gestures.
At this stage, they experience acute apathy, aggressiveness and exhaustion and they cannot perform any task including the simple ones minus assistance. Other symptoms include the deterioration of mobility and muscle mass to a stage where they confine to bed, unable to feed themselves. The table below shows the number of incidences affected after the age of 65 (Frank, 1994, pp. 417-423).
Age Number of Men and Women Affected per One Thousand