Professionally written papers on this topic:

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alzheimers disease

"Where has Yesterday Gone" Memory loss, like old age is a condition which mankind has always reluctantly recognized and always - with resignation. Memory loses are sometimes trivial and meaningless and go unrecognized. However, when these loses are so great that a person does not know who or where they are the concerns are quite grave. Although it is realize that Alzheimer's disease destroys the brain memory function, many do not realize precisely how the memory is destroyed once one is aware of the process, it becomes faster to work forward to alleviate the destruction. "Without memory there is no knowledge to recreate or reproduce past perceptions, emotions, thoughts and actions that are so vital to live a full and functioning life. Memory is the key that unlocks doors that keep us functioning, not only mentally but physically (Corrick 32)." "Memory loss is not a sign of decay (Freedman 10)." As we get older, there is some mild impairment in our recollection of recent events, such as forgetting why one went into a room or misplacing a person's eye glasses, which even young are guilty of doing. As reported by Larry Squire, "forgetting is quite normal and usually develops in the third decade of life, and by one estimate 85 percent of the healthy elderly - those over 65-suffer some memory impairment (59)." According to Dr. Seligmann, "forgetting is the process through which information in memory becomes inaccessible, either because it is stored but is not at that time retrievable (51)." This is one of the most important factors in forgetting. Memory loss is rapid at first and then gradually levels off. There are many types of "dismembering" enemies that hamper ones recall and retrieval system. "Forgetting may be increased by interference from proactive inhibition, that is material learned beforehand, like trying to remember a soup recipe (51)." In remembering stories or events there is a tendency for distortions to occur. Cutler explains that studies made by Elizabeth Loftus reveal, "what you learn today may actually distort your memory of what happened to you yesterday. . . (62)." People tend to remember the events that they regard as the most important. They attempt to reconstruct the event, usually what knowledge they have, with the result being what would have been expected rather than what actually happened. Dr. Siegfried reports that "Neural decay is another enemy to the memory. Sensory receptors, such as visual, auditory and smell, provide you with sharply etched neural impressions or the world around you. But this pattern of neural firing is quickly destroyed in one of two ways; the receptor neurons adapt to the input (10- 11)." The brain can register only one item at a time. If two events are occurring at the same time the storage of the information will depend on the importance of information to the individual. "Neural decay is perhaps the simplest types of forgetting (Seligmann 51)." As explained by Dick Gilling, "the short-term memory 'holds' items until a person decides how important they are and if they need to be transferred to the long-term memory for permanent storage (15)." According to the experience, the brain has made a mental index card for each category experience. "These index categories are used when someone wants to retrieve an item from memory storage banks. Sometimes these 'mental index cards' get catalogued in the wrong way, that is misfiled, or even lost (14)." When someone has learned too many things at once, cataloging errors frequently occur (Hamdy 93). For example, if a person is introduced to a dozen unfamiliar people at a party, mistakes will be made trying to attach the right names to proper faces. If a person were to meet one new individual a day for a dozen days, the chances will be greater of getting the file cards filed out correctly. "Misfiling also occurs, and people have trouble locating items in their memory banks. The more similar two items are, the more likely it is that one of them will be filed in the place supposedly reserved for the other (Gilling 14)." All the changes of aging that occur in the brain should not interfere with everyday living, "as there is ample organ function left to go on to ripe old age as long as there is no disease to accelerate the aging process (Gold 12)." We lose some brain cells as we age, but "there are millions of healthy ones left for our intellectual endeavors. . . However, a disease such as Alzheimer's can take away a person's memory, leaving them with no past, present, or future of any type (Gold 12- 13)." A person becomes nothing but an empty body with no mind inside. Until recently, explains James A. Corrick, "it was accepted that with the aging process along with senility. Some people will revert back to childhood and remembering things well and thinking clearly will no longer happen. What we call senile dementia is really Alzheimer's disease (26)." It can strike people in their middle forties. Alzheimer's disease is incurable and irreversible for now, but neuroscientists are hoping to develop a vaccine against the disease. "Everyone would be vaccinated at birth. . . (27)," and as neurosurgeon Dr. J. Eric Holmes notes, "almost nobody would suffer a decline in intellect and personality as they got older. We would all be bright as a tack as we got to be eighty or ninety. . . (28)." The only thing that would kill us is if our system gave out. Dr. Siegfried states that Dr. Lewis Thomas, the former Dean of the Yale School of Medicine and now Chancellor of Memorial Kettering Center, has described Alzheimer's disease as the "disease of the century: . . .the worst of all diseases, not just for what it does to the victim, but for its devastating effects on families and friends (13). It begins with the loss of learned skills progresses inexorably to a total shutting down of the mind. "It is, unmercifully, not lethal. Patients go on and on living, essentially brainless but otherwise healthy, into advanced age, unless luckily enough to be saved by pneumonia (14)." There are three important changes that occur in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. "These changes include senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and granulovaculoar degeneration (Frank 15)." Lawrence Galton describes "senile plaques as a development in the nerves of the brain. This is actually a scar, a mark resulting from degeneration, rather than a cause of it. Senile plaques are multiple small islands of dead materials containing specific compounds,. . . (8)." Their origin is unknown. These plaques consists of a chronic infection. "It has been estimated that 80 percent of patients over the age of sixty- five have senile plaques (9)." However, "Alzheimer's brains have a very heavy concentrated amount of senile plaques in the hippocampus are of the brain where the normal does not (10)." Another change that takes place in the brain is the abnormal neurofibrillary tangles in the nerve cells. A normal nerve cell looks like a small plant with branches, stem and many roots. "As aging occurs, the roots, which are called dendrites, begin to shorten and lose some of their structure. Eventually, the ends of the roots of these dendrites begin to accumulate into a sort of halio that resembles a small starfish (Cutler 14)." They become thick and intertwined. Although plaques and tangles appear in normal brains and gradually increase with the age Alzheimer's patient seems to have highly concentrated amount in the. . . "hippocampus portion of the brain, that the seat of memory, the short- term memory (Cutler 24). The third characteristic that changes in the brain of the Alzheimer's patient is the "granulovaculor degeneration (Gilling 13)." According to Gold, certain changes inside the cells themselves are taking place. The interior of the cell is undergoing changes and become crowed with fluid filled "vacuoles" as well as granular material.
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