Alzheimer's Disease: A Handbook for Caregivers

By Ronald C. Handy; James M. Turnbull et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Historical Perspectives

Lorraine Sambat

One of the most remarkable and beneficial re-
forms of the nineteenth century has been in
the attitude of the profession and the public to
the subject of insanity, and the gradual formation
of a body of men in the profession who labour
to find out the cause and the means of relief of
this most distressing of all human maladies
.

—William Osler

The history of Alzheimer's disease began in 1906 with Dr. Alois Alzheimer's presentation of the clinical case of a 55-year-old woman suffering from progressive dementia. Dementia, however, has been recognized since early antiquity, and has often been associated with old age.


EARLY HISTORY OF SENILE DEMENTIA

References to senile dementia were first recorded around 600 B.C. Solon, an Athenian lawgiver known as one of the seven wise men of Greece, acknowledged the fact that judgment may be impaired in old age and revised the usual practice of dividing an inheritance within the family, taking into account that judgment while making a will may be affected by old age.

Plato also recognized senile dementia in his Republic, and stated that the commission of certain crimes (sacrilege, treachery, treason) is excusable in a state of madness, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in extreme old age, or in a fit of childish wantonness.

It is interesting to note that although dementia was often associated with old age, the ancient Greeks recognized that it was not part of the normal aging process. In fact, in that era of history, the government was usually run by the elderly because of their greater experience, loyalty, and wisdom. This was in line

-51-

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Alzheimer's Disease: A Handbook for Caregivers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Alzheimer's Disease - A Handbook for Caregivers *
  • Contributors v
  • Reviewers ix
  • Foreword from First Edition xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Contents xix
  • Chapter 1 - Alzheimer's Disease: an Overview 1
  • Unit One *
  • The Normal Brain *
  • Chapter 2 - Higher Brain Functions 11
  • Chapter 3 - Neuropsychological Assessment of Dementia 27
  • Chapter 4 - Imaging the Brain in Alzheimer's Disease 41
  • Unit 2 *
  • Alzheimer's Disease *
  • Chapter 5 - Historical Perspectives 51
  • Chapter 6 - Etiology and Pathogenesis: Current Concepts 60
  • Chapter 7 - Clinical Presentation 74
  • Chapter 8 - Clinical Diagnosis 87
  • Chapter 9 - Factors That Aggravate the Symptoms 104
  • Chapter 10 - Other Dementias 117
  • Unit Three *
  • Management *
  • Chapter 11 - General Principles of Management 143
  • Chapter 12 - Management of Difficult Behaviors 150
  • Chapter 13 - Psychopharmacology in Dementia 171
  • Chapter 4 - Specific Drug Therapy 183
  • Chapter 15 - Urinary and Fecal Incontinence 199
  • Chapter 16 - Management of Urinary Incontinence 213
  • Chapter 17 - Safety and Accident Prevention 227
  • Chapter 18 - Daily Care and Management 243
  • Chapter 19 - Developing a Day's Activity 259
  • Chapter 20 - Terminal Care of the Patient 276
  • Unit 4 *
  • Special Issues *
  • Chapter 21 - Ethical Issues 293
  • Chapter 22 - Legal Issues for Caregivers 306
  • Chapter 23 - Stress in Caregivers 316
  • Chapter 24 - Elder Abuse 328
  • Unit Five *
  • Community Support *
  • Chapter 25 - Caregiver Education and Support 341
  • Chapter 26 - Social Services 354
  • Chapter 27 - The Alzheimer's Association 367
  • Chapter 28 - Dementia Care Units 377
  • Unit Six *
  • Future Prospects *
  • Chapter 29 - Promising Areas of Research 393
  • Appendix A - Some Useful Addresses and Phone Numbers 399
  • Appendix B - Additional References 415
  • Glossary 423
  • Index 441
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