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A description of the symptoms and possible causes of Alzheimer's disease as an example of brain malfunction

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  • Essay length: 506 words
  • Submitted: 07/08/2003
AS and A Level Healthcare

An extract from this essay...

Rob Holt

Biology

A description of the symptoms and possible causes of Alzheimer's disease as an example of brain malfunction

Alzheimer's disease is one of a number of forms of dementia. This type of illness affects the brain by gradually reducing the number of brain cells. This decline in brain tissue can occur in all parts of the brain. However, Alzheimer's deals mainly with the Cerebrum part of the brain. The Cerebrum controls intelligence, memory, language skills, emotions and personality. As a result, Alzheimer's has many symptoms, which link to the part of the Cerebrum that has been damaged. The results of Alzheimer's are apparent, as one in ten people over 65 and in half of the population over 85. Their disease seriously affects their lives as seven out of ten live at home.

The earliest and most common sign of Alzheimer's is a decline in memory. This memory loss affects recent information more so than long-term memory. This would also lead to a short attention span and often losing interest in long conversations. Moreover, disorientation develops and those with Alzheimer's may get lost in their own street.

Problems with language may also prevent coherent conversations. The affected person may not speak grammatically correct and talk in a child-like manner. They may substitute forgotten words for vague descriptions or make up new words.

The simple understanding and judgement of sufferers becomes impaired and they can make the wrong choices. For example, wearing warm clothes on a hot day, wearing Bermuda shorts on a winter's day or waking up at awkward hours to do household tasks.

The mathematical knowledge the people with Alzheimer's have deteriorates. They do not understand what the numbers are for and how to manipulate them. Tasks like managing finances become impossible.

Rapid and dramatic mood swings are also a common occurrence. A person may change from anger to tears to glee to disappointment in a short while. This seriously affects the person's personality

Eventually the sufferer will become unaware of the outside world. They will not recognise faces and lose bladder control, needing constant care and then die. However, the rate at which the number of brain cells decreases

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