What is Alzheimer’s Disease?: Past, Present, and Future

Posted on August 1, 2019

If you find yourself asking the question ‘What is Alzheimer’s disease?’, you have come to the right place! Alzheimer’s disease is a severe form of dementia, with over 3 million cases in the United States every year. While communities like The Pavilion Senior Living provide ample support and memory care services, there currently is no cure. Senior care requires much attention, and having Alzheimer’s requires even more. 

Past: Alzheimer’s Discovery

Even though the question ‘What is Alzheimer’s disease?’ is still very present today, the disease was discovered over one hundred years ago. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, noted odd behavior from his patient, Auguste Deter, including unfounded suspicion, delusions, and random mood swings. Auguste’s symptoms began in the 1890s but was later transferred to the care of the mental health center Alois worked at in 1901.

After Deter passed away in 1906, Alois Alzheimer requested to examine her brain and noted, “a peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex.” It wasn’t until 1910 that the phrase ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ came into reality, which was coined by one of Alois’ colleagues, Emil Kraepelin. 

Present: Modern Research Advancements

While Alzheimer’s disease was discovered nearly a century ago, much of the research and breakthroughs came later. 1931 marked the first breakthrough for Alzheimer’s disease with the development of the electron microscope. This invention allowed researchers to study the brain in much greater detail than previously available. With modern technology giving us the ability to study brain tissue in greater detail, the next milestone was to create a scale to measure cognitive decline. This scale was established in 1968 and gave researchers a measurement for proper cognitive function and its decline. 

Federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease began in 1974 through the development of the National Institute on Aging that was funded and established by Congress. This development is important because a decade later, the NIA began funding Alzheimer’s Disease Centers and is our primary federal agency for Alzheimer’s disease research. The next advancements would occur in the 1990s; the first being in 1993 when the Food and Drug Administration approved the first medication for those with Alzheimer’s disease, Tacrine. Senior care at the time had memory care services, but no approved medication treatment. The question ‘What is Alzheimer’s disease?’ skyrocketed in 1994 after former President Ronald Reagan announced his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Future: We Will Cure Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease research and awareness are two key components of our current and future endeavors. Having people ask the question ‘What is Alzheimer’s disease?’ is crucial to raising awareness about a disease that affects so many. Researchers still have a way to go before a cure is discovered, but the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit announced a global effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease with a vow to find a cure or a therapy-altering discovery by 2025!

Senior care options are expanding and evolving to help those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Today’s efforts and levels of care look incredibly different than those in the 1990s. As we continue to research and advance our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, we must do the same for our techniques. 

If your loved one was recently diagnosed, know that there is hope. The Pavilion Senior Living has person-centered memory care services for those with memory loss that encourages engagement, and provide day-to-day support for your loved one, feel free to contact us to learn more!