Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative condition most commonly (and somewhat erroneously) affiliated with the elderly, falls under the broad definition of dementia. Some estimates hold that Alzheimer’s in present at a rate of 0.02% in people aged 30-39 years to 10.8% in those aged 80-90 years. Sometimes referred to as senility or dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of which the onset is often so subtle as to evade perception until it has well set in. Once diagnosed, the victims of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their families, are often painfully aware of the inescapable prognosis. Among the many afflicted with Alzheimer’s is the former President Ronald Reagan whose own condition has progressed to the point that he no longer makes public appearances and is rumored to not even be cognitively aware of his own name.
Though much is known about Alzheimer’s, much yet needs to be learned about diagnosing, preventing, and treating the disease. What follows is a concise look into Alzheimer’s disease – its history, symptoms and prognosis, treatment options, and most of all - how people cope with the disease.
With Alzheimer’s disease, as in many other currently incurable diseases, the media abounds in flash stories of preventions and hopeful cures – some of which sound ludicrous. Until an effective cure or treatment is available, research should continue on how to best assist Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families in coping with the disease.