Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and degenerative disease which usually attacks the human brain and ends up impairing an individual’s reasoning, memory, thinking and general behaviors. It is a common form of dementia which was named after Alois Alzheimer who was the first scientist to examine the brain of a 51 year old woman in 1906 before she died of dementia. Alzheimer found out that there were plaque-like structures which in the woman’s neurons and he recognized them as being the main pathological changes.
The Alzheimer’s association is one of the world’s Health Organization which is known for its voluntary care of Alzheimer’s patients. The main mission of this association is to try as much as possible to be able to eliminate and control the Alzheimer’s disease through support and research and to try to provide support to all the individuals who are affected by the disease, and to help in the reduction of the risks of dementia which most of the citizens of the USA face through the promotion of special programs like the promotion of brain health program.
In the United States of America, legislation was introduced so as to be able to improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and to strengthen care planning in the Alzheimer’s patients. Studies have shown that the early diagnosis and recognition of Alzheimer’s disease helps the medical practitioners to be able to provide better medical services to the Alzheimer’s patients and to reduce the spread of the disease which is greatly affecting the population of the older adults in the United States of America (Cummings and Cole, 2002).
In the USA, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are common ailments and diseases which are commonly found in the older adults. It was estimated that about 5 million people living in America were living with the Alzheimer’s disease and the leaders of America had to intervene so as to come up with better ideas on how to handle the disease because if nothing had been done, there would be more than 14 million Americans who had the age of 65 years and above would be victims of the Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2040. This meant that if the disease was not controlled from spreading very fast, the United States would spend trillions of dollars into treating Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Act of 2009 was a bill made by the government of the United States of America to amend the Public Health Service Act so that it could be able to fund the breakthroughs in the research of the Alzheimer’s disease by providing all the help that the care that the caregivers require so as to increase public education on the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease. The sources of policy which were used to address the problem included legislation, regulation, budget, court decisions, and executive decisions.
The policy that was adopted to address the problem of Alzheimer’s disease was the creation of a panel by the USA government to concentrate and focus very much on the early recognition and detection of dementia in the older adults which is the majority of the population in the United states. This panel was supposed to determine the characteristics and other triggers of the disease which would require further assessment and then after coming up with the characteristics, they were supposed to come up with recommendations on the screening of different age brackets of the population. Alzheimer’s disease is a current epidemic in America.
This panel which was created by the Agency for Health care policy and Research in the USA which consisted of an 18 member interdisciplinary panel which comprised of psychiatrists, neurologists, geriatrician, psychologists, nurses, an internist, consumer representatives, and a social worker. The main objective of the panel was to try to increase the early assessment and recognition of dementia so that any condition which is treatable could be treated before it was too late for treatment where the reversible conditions can be treated immediately and to determine the non-reversible conditions which if they are diagnosed early enough, it can enable the family members of the patient to plan for a long term patient care (Cummings and Cole, 2002).
Dementia’s early symptoms can be mistaken or overlooked to be the normal aging of a person where this misdiagnosis can make the disease to become very severe in an individual as the age of the person advances (Cummings and Cole, 2002). It can also lead to harmful treatment due to this failure in the early diagnosis of the disease. If the disease is diagnosed early enough, the patient can be treated fully before the disease advances.
Alzheimer’s disease has become a social problem which is rapidly growing and a family affair. The caring for the people with Alzheimer’s disease has very high emotional, physical, and financial costs. This is because the patients demand to have day to day care, difficult decisions that the family members have to make into the placement of the sick family members into care facilities, and the changing family roles which are extremely difficult to handle (Beard et al., 1996).
Dementia is a very serious social, economic, and medical problem which is found in a majority number of the adult population of people who live in the United States. Dementia like the Alzheimer’s disease has been considered by many researchers to be potentially reversible or reversible which in other words can mean that the dementias and Alzheimer’s can be treated so as to be able to restore the near normal or the normal intellectual function of patient suffering from the disease (Cummings and Cole, 2002). Alzheimer’s disease together with the related Dementias bring about very high disability rates, a low productivity rate of the caregivers of the family and the patients, and bring about extremely high health care costs in trying to treat the Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers have also proven that some factors like the genetic factors play a very crucial part in the development of the Alzheimer’s disease. (Beard et al., 1996).
The policies which were addressing this problem of Alzheimer’s disease have gradually changed over time. The time is changing at a very fast rate and so is the complexity of many diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is not only affecting the old adults but it is also affecting the young adults of about 30-40 years of age as compared to the past where only the old adult of above 65 years were affected (Kawas, et al., 2001). As the years have gone by, people’s bodies have greatly evolved and they have grown to be weaker as the years progress. The change in the technology is also another factor which has made the past policies obsolete. This is because new methods of research which involve the use on new technologies have replaced the old traditional methods of disease diagnosis where in the recent years, medical professionals can use computers and other specialized machines to be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (Breteler, 2001).
Past policies have been effective in addressing the problem of Alzheimer’s disease since they helped in educating patients, the patient’s families, and the health professionals about the symptoms which require the assessment for dementing disorders. These policies have also led to the improvement of the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia through the identification of the areas of further research on early recognition (Kawas, et al., 2001). This has helped in the reduction of the wrong diagnosis of the Alzheimer’s disease which is considered to one of the fast spreading diseases in the United States on the elderly people.
The past policies were able to alleviate the problems they ought to address because they were able to find out certain triggers to the Alzheimer’s disease which were supposed to prompt the clinician to do an assessment on the patient for dementia (Breteler, 2001). They used an assessment instrument called the Functional Activities Questionnaire which is a very effective tool for assessing the functional impairment of an individual. This made the clinicians not to diagnose the patient as having signs of aging. The clinicians were also able to use factors like the age of the patient, physical disability, sensory impairment, level of education, and cultural results to be able to interpret the results from the tests (Kawas, et al., 2003).
The past policies have created various problems because the research teams which had been put in place to help in the research of the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia sometimes get no evidence out of the screening tests for them to recommend the most appropriate and efficient tool for screening the disease. In their research, some of these tests that they try out do not have any sensitivity for any dementia. Another problem is that the recognition of these symptoms in their early stages is very difficult since they cannot come up with a proper and efficient screening tool for the Alzheimer’s disease. This can lead to a wrong diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The research for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has developed over the last years to a point where the researchers and scientists have overlooked over other factors in controlling the disease like the possible interventions which are available like the immunization therapy, antioxidants, and the effects of the treatment of some diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular problems (Breteler, 2001). Researchers are putting in more efforts to help in the expansion on the knowledge that they have about the function of the brain in older people who are likely to increase their understanding on the disease and they are also working very hard to untangle all the biological, genetic, and other environmental factors which may result in the Alzheimer’s disease (Cummings and Cole, 2002). This effort by the researchers and the scientists has made it easier to manage and prevent the devastating Alzheimer’s disease.