The health issue I would like to present today is known as Alzheimer’s disease. I choose this issue because it is commonly known world wide and many seniors are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is also predicted that the amount of patients with this disease will increase dramatically in the following years. Another reason I selected this issue is because my grandfather was also had this disease. It was very painful and tragic to watch him go through the effects. Previously, I have seen many TV shows and movies about patients with Alzheimer’s and it deeply affected me of how people have to deal with the pain, mentally and physically. Alzheimer’s usually affects only people aged 65 and above but mentally and emotionally affects teenagers who are related to one suffering. It is devastating to watch someone go through the pain while you can not do anything to help. Teens should also be concerned about the amount of our seniors that feel this pain in order to hopefully find a solution some day. This still affects me today that my grandfather experienced these terrible times of forgetting me and our family. It was hard to watch him deal with the loss of his memory and life.Therefore, I believe that we should raise more awareness about it by understanding the symptoms and the responses of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects people 65 years old and above where they have problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. In 1901, doctor Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist noticed a patient in the hospital bed had some peculiar problems such as sleeping problems, mood changes, memory problems and increasing confusion. When she passed away he was able to test his ideas that her symptoms were caused by the problems in her brain. Under the microscope, he found differences in brain tissue in the form of plaques (misfolded proteins) and neurofibrillary tangles. The plaques and tangles worked together to damage the brain cells communication. The time it takes for AD to progress varies from person to person, so it’s hard to predict how long someone with the condition will live. Usually, older adults live three to four years with Alzheimer’s disease. Younger adults who get the disease may live with the condition for 10 years or more. Currently, there are no cure towards this disease but there are several drugs to show some modest improvements such as boosting levels of cells communications in the brain or improving the bodies immune system to fight back or by slowing the progression of the disease. However, these drugs have several side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite and sleep disturbances. Other solutions may cause little improvements and ways to make the patient’s life easier. These may include, solving brain puzzles, getting the right nutrients, exercising and creating a safe environment. The more education you have, the lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore it is best to keep brain active in old age by doing activities such as taking classes, learning languages and playing musical instruments. Alzheimer’s worsens over time and people experience greater memory loss and more difficulties that affect their lifestyle. In the first stage of Alzheimer’s it affects your short term memory. Problems can include wandering and getting lost, trouble handling money and paying bills, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, and personality and behavior changes. Later on when the disease become more moderate, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. Memory loss and confusion grow worse, and people begin to have problems recognising family and friends. They may be unable to learn new things, carry out multi step tasks such as getting dressed, or cope with new situations. In addition, people at this stage may have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia and may behave impulsively. Ultimately when the disease is severe, plaques and tangles spread throughout the brain, and brain tissue shrinks significantly. People with severe Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for their care. Near the end, the person will have trouble with their heart rate and breathing and may be in bed most or all of the time as the body shuts down. As mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s disease does not only affect the patient but the caretakers of the patient as well. It is proven that Alzheimer’s caregivers have an increased likelihood of physical strain, mental and emotional stress, depression, financial problems, and family/interpersonal issues. Unfortunately, the cost for treating the disease continues to rise. In 2016 that figure reached about $236 billion. The number of Americans with the disease is expected to increase in the years ahead. It’s estimated that AD may cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion by 2050.
Some interesting facts about this issue are:
- Women have a higher risk of getting this disease. Nearly twice as many women have Alzheimer’s and worsens more quickly in women as men.
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the 5th-leading cause of death in adults aged 65 and over.
- More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimers and by 2050 can go up to 16 million.
- This disease kills more people than breast cancer and postate cancer combined.
I believe that this disease is very serious and should be taken so in order to stop risking our seniors to end their life this way. To help solve this problem, you should spread the word about the effects and facts of Alzheimer’s and raise awareness and hopefully find a solution one day. Additionally, you should be concerned about how Alzheimer’s was discovered more than a century ago and we still have not found a right cure. I believe that as young citizens, we should start acting in small steps to help ourselves and others to prevent us from getting diagnosed with this disease in the future.