Healthy Living

Growing Closer to a Cure for Alzheimer's

A short history of Alzheimer's disease

Even though ancient Greeks and Romans knew that old age was sometimes linked to dementia, it was not until the twentieth century that a specific disease was established.

In 1901, Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, began studying a woman name Auguste Deter. She was admitted to a mental institution after developing dementia despite being in her early fifties. According to Auguste, she was constantly losing herself, which made Dr. Alzheimer take a great interest in her condition. He recorded what he could and eventually, he dubbed her disease as the "Disease of Forgetfulness."

When he autopsied her brain after she passed, he found plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. In 1906, he publicly gave his report on her condition, which led other doctors to report on the same condition. Within five years, they were already calling it Alzheimer’s disease.

Originally the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was restricted for those under 65, while over 65 was just called senile dementia. But, because the physiological mechanisms were the same regardless of age, in 1977, the term was standardized to cover people of all ages with the same type of degeneration.

In the hundred years since its discovery, many things have been discovered about Alzheimer’s. Those plaque deposits and neurofibrillary tangles, however, have remained a constant, and are still implicated in the development of the disease.