Alzheimer’s disease was first discovered in 1906. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, is widely credited with discovering what later became known as Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Alzheimer, along with others such as Solomon Carter Fuller and Oskar Fischer were among the first to make significant contributions to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1901, Dr. Alzheimer observed a patient at the Frankfurt Asylum named Auguste Deter. The 51-year-old female patient displayed strange behavioral symptoms, including increasing short-term memory loss, unfounded suspicions about her family, and other worsening psychological changes. Her condition rapidly deteriorated into severe dementia. This patient would become Dr. Alzheimer’s obsession over the coming years.
In the political climate of the time in the psychiatric community, it would have been easy to ignore Frau Deters symptoms. The Deter family couldn’t afford the Frankfurt Asylum and her husband had made several requests to have her transferred to a less expensive facility. Dr. Alzheimer intervened in these requests and Frau Deter remained at the Frankfurt Asylum. Dr. Alzheimer had made a deal to receive her medical records and her brain upon her death.
Auguste Deter died in 1906 and, as agreed, her patient records and brain were sent to Dr. Alzheimer. During an autopsy, Dr. Alzheimer identified a number of pathological conditions, including shrinking of the cortex and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and neurotic plaques. The plaques and tangles were distinctive enough to warrant a diagnosis of senile dementia, which became known as Alzheimer’s disease.
Sadly, the pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is still generally based on the same investigative methods used in 1906. This is remarkable compared with the development of investigative methods for other diseases, and it speaks volumes about the quality of Alois Alzheimer’s discovery.
An estimated 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and over 15 million family members and friends provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. A recent survey by the MetLife foundation found that 57% of respondents knew very little about Alzheimer’s disease.
Early and accurate diagnosis could save up to $7.9 trillion in medical and care costs. More importantly, early treatment may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and prolong the quality of life for the person affected with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Furthermore, learning some of the basics about Alzheimer’s disease could help you identify early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in one of your friends or family members.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 70% of all dementia cases. The changes that take place in the brain begin at the microscopic level, long before the first signs of memory loss. Some studies suggest Alzheimer’s disease begins develop nearly 20 years before the first symptoms appear.
Another thing you should know about Alzheimer’s disease is there are no survivors, at least, not yet anyway. Many famous people have died of Alzheimer’s disease including Ronald Reagan, Glen Campbell, Gene Wilder, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Charles Bronson, Peter Falk, Rosa Parks, Norman Rockwell, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Perry Como.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Yet, every 65 seconds a person in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease and 1 out of every 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer, COMBINED!
We have created the 1906 Society to bring together generous donors who have the ability and desire to lead the movement to End Alzheimer’s disease and affect real change. 1906 symbolizes the year Alzheimer’s disease was discovered. Make a donation of $1,906 or more and become a member of the 1906 Society.
Our goal is to End Alzheimer’s disease and we are asking you to join us.
Please consider this your official invitation to become a founding member of the 1906 Society. Your generous donation will make a difference. It will give help and hope to families currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and allow future generations to live long, healthy lives.
Together, we can End Alz.