Research Paper2nd

Research Paper2nd - Alzheimer's Disease i Is Identity Lost...

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Alzheimer’s Disease i Is Identity Lost due to Alzheimer’s Disease? Honors Symposium Karen Erickson April 4, 2007
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Alzheimer’s Disease 2 Is Identity Lost due to Alzheimer’s Disease? Identity is what defines a person. According to the American Heritage dictionary, identity is, “the set of characteristics by which an individual is recognizable.” Family, friends, memories, personality, psychological state, intelligence, and language: these are all factors that contribute to one’s identity. When such things are lost or forgotten, identity is consequently lost as well. All of these factors are altered in Alzheimer’s disease. Not only are they changed in the patient, but in the caregivers and close family members, too. Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease results in the loss of identity in patients and their families. Alzheimer’s disease was first defined by Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, in 1906. One of his patients showed progressing dementia over a period of a few years, eventually followed by death. Alzheimer then found changes in the patient’s brain that are now known to be characteristic of the disease. This discovery resulted in the disease being named after him. 1 Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible disease that affects the elderly and has one prominent symptom: dementia. Dementia is characterized by the impairment of brain functions including memory, problem-solving skills, motor skills, social skills, personality, intelligence, and emotional reactions. Dementia causes a lapse in memory, known as amnesia, which is usually the most common problem associated with the disease. Atrophy, or shrinking of the brain, is also present in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Severe language impairment 1 Note . The general background information on Alzheimer’s disease was found in multiple sources, therefore not cited in the body of the paper because it was determined to be general knowledge on the subject. See works consulted for a list of references which were consulted for background information.
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Alzheimer’s Disease 3 known as aphasia is yet another symptom that occurs with Alzheimer’s. Agnosia, a type of impairment where objects are not recognized correctly, is a symptom in which the perception of the patient is affected. Alzheimer’s disease lasts about 8 to 10 years on average, followed by death (Petersen, 2002, p. 27). Alzheimer’s disease can’t be diagnosed conclusively before death, but tests can be run that can diagnose the disease with a high confidence range. Microscopic examination of the brain tissue during an autopsy has to be performed before the diagnosis can be verified, though. If senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are present in the brain, then the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be made. Senile plaques are proteins that form on axons in the brain, causing interference with messages sent between neurons. Neurofibrillary tangles are long thread-like structures that form on neurons in the
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course HONR 100 taught by Professor Erickson during the Fall '06 term at CSB-SJU.

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Research Paper2nd - Alzheimer's Disease i Is Identity Lost...

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