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Today, we'll discuss a disease many Americans face as they age.

We can all be forgetful but imagine not remembering your own name. For some older Americans that's a reality.

They live with Dementia and the most common form of the disorder is Alzheimer's.

The disease usually begins after the age of 60, and the older you get, the more likely you are to have it. Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, yet nearly half of people over 85 are thought to have it.

A German Physician, Alois Alzheimer, first discovered it in 1906. He noticed changes in the brain of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness.

Dr. Alzheimer observed abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers that we now know is evidence of Alzheimer's. The only problem is, you can't see these until after death, during an autopsy.

So doctors now diagnose patients by asking questions and performing tests on memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language. At specialized centers, doctors can diagnose Alzheimer's correctly up to 90 percent of the time. But a definitive test for early diagnosis and treatment is desperately needed.

Recently, the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Maryland reported the development of a new diagnostic skin test. It detects changes in the way skin cells signal to one another in people who have Alzheimer's.

An early diagnosis is important because patients can start taking drugs like Aricept or Rasadyne which may slow Alzheimer's progression. And, it means families of patients can also prepare for the heavy mental and financial commitment involved.

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The Alzheimer's Association, a world leader in Alzheimer research and support, is the first and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer's. It is their mission to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. This site has many resources for those with Alzheimer's and for their families and other care givers.

A division of the National Institutes of Health called the National Institute on Aging that funds research into aging and the diseases associated with aging, including Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center Web site will help you find current, comprehensive Alzheimer's disease (AD) information and resources from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at

The National Institutes of Health has additional resources for seniors here and among the topics they cover is Alzheimer's Disease here

The American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) is a nonprofit charitable organization that has dedicated over 30 years to funding research on age-related and degenerative diseases, educating the public about these diseases, and providing emergency financial assistance to Alzheimer's disease patients and their caregivers. AHAF is one of America's leading supporters of scientific and medical investigations into Alzheimer's Disease, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Heart Disease, and Stroke around the world.
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