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Alzheimer's Disease - Race Against Time

Aging Article   (2,960 Views 9 Comments)
VickyRN VickyRN (New Member) New Member

VickyRN is a Nurse Educator with over 23 years in experience.

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects 4 - 5 % of older adults in the U.S. It is the most common type of dementia, and its effects are devastating for both the individual and the extended family unit, as well as being very expensive for society overall.

Alzheimer's Disease - Race Against Time

The odds of developing AD double for each five-year period after the age of 65. By age 85, one-third to one-half of elders exhibit some signs and symptoms of this dementia. Scientists predict a dramatic increase in the prevalence of ad as the enormous baby boomer cohort, 76 million strong, rapidly approaches retirement age. In fact, some authorities project that the economic cost for caring for Alzheimer patients will consume the entire federal budget by the year 2030, unless a cure can be found.

Alzheimer’s disease is distinguished by two degenerative pathophysiologic changes in the brain tissue: neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. The neuritic plaques consist of beta-amyloid fragment byproducts from the breakdown of neurons in the brain. The neurofibrillary tangles occur as a result of dysfunction of tau proteins. These changes first affect the neocortex and hippocampus areas of the brain. As the disease progresses, an individual’s memory, cognitive functioning, and personality are slowly dismantled. Eventually, the victim loses all vestiges of personhood, and becomes mute, incontinent, and totally dependent on others for all activities of daily living.

The forgetting: a portrait of Alzheimer’s is a compelling documentary that purports to take “a dramatic, compassionate, all-encompassing look at the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease.” It chronicles the lived experiences of three families as they deal with loved ones (Gladys, Fran, and Isabel) in the cruel grip of this degenerative neurological ailment. The 90-minute television program, which first aired on the public broadcasting service in January 2004, is based on the best-selling book by David Shenk.

The purpose of this documentary is to portray the immense challenges that this devastating form of dementia presents to individuals, families, and to society. It vividly paints the “looming public health disaster” that awaits society from the aging boomer demographic shockwave. The film details the history of Alzheimer’s Dementia, including its discovery by Dr. Alois Alzheimer a century ago, and how this disease is predicted to reach epidemic proportions by the year 2030. It also relates how scientists, geneticists, and researchers are racing against time to find a cure, to avert economic catastrophe from the exploding number of Alzheimer's victims and the expensive long-term care services they will require.

To view this compelling documentary and find out more about this devastating illness, go to this link. It will change your perspective forever about Alzheimer’s dementia.

References

Eliopoulos, c. (2010). Gerontological nursing (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Moody, H.R. (2010). Aging: Concepts and Controversies (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (2004). The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s. retrieved June 23, 2009, from The Forgetting | PBS Programs

PBS. (2008). About the Forgetting: The Documentary. Retrieved June 23, 2009, from The Forgetting | PBS Programs

Tabloski, P. A. (2006). Gerontological Nursing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

VickyRN, PhD, RN, is a certified nurse educator (NLN) and certified gerontology nurse (ANCC). Her research interests include: the special health and social needs of the vulnerable older adult population; registered nurse staffing and resident outcomes in intermediate care nursing facilities; and, innovations in avoiding institutionalization of frail elderly clients by providing long-term care services and supports in the community. She is a Professor in a large baccalaureate nursing program in North Carolina

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I've seen this.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's although I question that. I think it's simple Alzheimer's. But it doesn't really much matter as far as the dementia.

Thanks for the article.

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I've seen this.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's although I question that. I think it's simple Alzheimer's. But it doesn't really much matter as far as the dementia.

Thanks for the article.

So sorry, Sue :redbeathe There is another type of dementia called Dementia with Lewy-Bodies, somewhat of a cross between AD and Parkinson's.

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I've seen this.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's although I question that. I think it's simple Alzheimer's. But it doesn't really much matter as far as the dementia.

Thanks for the article.

I'm sorry to hear that, Sue. My father was dx'ed with Parkinson's many years ago, in his 30's. He has mild dementia now. I think he's had the dementia for about 10 years. He's in his 60s now. About a third of those with Parkinson's have dementia as a part of the Parkinson's pathophysiology.

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I'm sorry to hear that, Sue. My father was dx'ed with Parkinson's many years ago, in his 30's. He has mild dementia now. I think he's had the dementia for about 10 years. He's in his 60s now. About a third of those with Parkinson's have dementia as a part of the Parkinson's pathophysiology.

I'm sorry about your father, Multi. I had heard about the dementia component afflicting some people with PD, usually in the later stages. This site has some great information: Parkinson's Disease and Dementia

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just finding your blog today, vicky...:behindpc:

i was really surprised to learn that only 4-5% have ad.

regardless, i find it to be one of the most devastating diseases around.

my heart breaks for the ad pt in the early stages, when they are aware of their race against time.

and then, my heart breaks for the loved ones, whose grief can last for many, many yrs.

it's just too, too much for all involved.

these folks deserve the most loving of care, esp when only a shell remains.

anways, great read.

we need to bring these folks into the light of love, support and compassion.

it's the least we can do.

leslie

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Excellent, sensitive post, Leslie. Yes, these souls deserve the highest quality compassionate and loving care. Caregivers need special support, too, as the day to day care can exact a high toll.

The incidence of AD is 4-5% of all people age 65 and over. This is a cross-section in time.

The prevalence (lifetime chance of acquiring AD) for those 85 and over is nearly 50%. This is quite an astonishing statistic considering that the fastest growing demographic group is the "old-old" (those 85 and above).

Considering the demographic tidal wave of the aging Boomers, we must find a cure and soon!

Edited by VickyRN

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I have an ignorant question. I've noticed quite a few Alzheimers residence at my LTC are "grabbers". I've been meaning to ask the nurse why they do this but I always forget or get side-tracked.

Some of them will grab anything and everything and squeeze tight. It's my assumption, that most of the time they are not even aware that they are grabbing. Does any one know why they do this?

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