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A Look at the History of Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by CaraVita Staff on September 15 2019 | 4 minute read


It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s disease continues to be a considerable challenge for the international health community. At CaraVita Home Care, we understand that where we started is just as important as where we’re going with Alzheimer’s disease research.

While researchers are making strides in 2019, this hasn’t always been the case. We want to take a look back through the history of Alzheimer's disease. This framework of the condition can give a better understanding of what Alzheimer's disease is and how close we are to a cure.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease: The Origin

What is Alzheimer’s disease? How long has it been part of our society? What we know is that Alzheimer’s disease is a prolonged decline of the brain that impairs cognitive function. The effects slowly escalate over time and most often is diagnosed in people 65 years or older. 

1906 - Dr. Alois Alzheimer first observed symptoms in Auguste Deter. Auguste was only 55 when her symptoms were observed; which included memory loss, shrinkage of the brain, and abnormal behavior.

1910 - The term “Alzheimer's disease” was coined by a colleague of Dr. Alzheimer, Dr. Emil Kraepelin.

Advancements In Technology

1931 - Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll invented the electron microscope. Its use in studying the brain became a widespread practice post-WWII when it was seen that this technology could be utilized to study brain cells in greater detail.

1968 - Cognitive measurement scales are developed to assess and track the functional decline in older adults. This scale would lead to correlations in impairments and estimates of damaged brain tissue. Cognitive measurement scales effectively set the stage for dementia research going forward, which helps us to better answer the question “what is Alzheimer’s disease?”.


The Fight Takes the National Stage

1974 - Congress established the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which exists to understand the effects of aging on the human mind and body, and increase the quality of life for senior citizens as a result.

1980 - Jerome H. Stone founded The Alzheimer’s Association

1983 - As more people ask “what Alzheimer’s disease is?”, Congress designates November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

1984 - Breakthrough research by Dr. George Glenner and Cai’ne Wong identify the Beta-amyloid, a critical factor in the buildup of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.

That same year, the NIA initiated funding for Alzheimer’s Disease Centers at institutions across the United States. These institutions allow researchers across the nation to share their findings and better help answer “what is Alzheimer’s disease?” on a national scale. 

1987 - The first Alzheimer’s drug, Tacrine, is brought to clinical trial by the NIA and the Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company.

Modern Mission: Defeating Alzheimer’s By 2025

2003 - The Alzheimer’s Association and the NIA partner and recruit volunteers for the National Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study. This study utilized blood samples from those who developed the disease late in life to identify new genes that signify a risk for the disease to occur.

2008 - The International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART) began. The purpose of this organization is to help answer the underlying question as to what Alzheimer’s disease is and how we can better understand the condition. 

2011- The National Alzheimer’s Project Act became a law. This act addresses the still-growing health crisis Alzheimer's disease presents to the public in a coordinated effort among both government and private researchers. 

2013 - The first G8 Dementia Summit took place in London. World leaders set their sites on the year 2025 as the goal to effectively treat or eliminate all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

2016 - The iDEAS Study began and is set to increase early detection signs of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

2018 - Results of the SPRINT MIND Study showed that treating high blood pressure resulted in a substantial drop in newer cases of mild cognitive impairment. This result led to SPRINT MIND 2.0 to expand the data to include HBP treatments in preventing and treating forms of dementia.

2019 - The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of the iDEAS study. Results showed that PET scans that amyloid plaques in different regions of the brain have differing effects on the mind. Doctors received the ability to more accurately diagnose and provide more effective treatments in two-thirds of patients in the study.

A Long Story of Progress

From the early days of Dr. Alzheimer to a goal of finding a cure by 2025, modern medicine has brought us a long way, and the history of Alzheimer’s disease is a testament to that. As we continue to push towards a cure, it is important to continue to educate yourself and spread awareness about Alzheimer’s disease!MORE BLOGS ON ALZHEIMER'S & DEMENTIA

CaraVita Home Care’s DementiaLife Program provides services and care to those dealing with memory impairments. With proper memory care, together, we can fill the life of your loved one with as much peace and joy as possible. Contact our CaraVita Home Care team to learn more!


Topics: Alzheimer's & Dementia, CaraVita Home Care