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Disorders of Thought, Emotion, and Memory

Ella is 88 years old and was living at home until very recently. Her children, who visited her regularly, noticed she was becoming more forgetful. At first, she mislaid objects, and then she began to forget her doctor’s appointments. With time, her personality changed and she became withdrawn. At home she would forget to turn off the stove or leave the kettle on until it boiled dry. After seeking advice from a gerontologist and social worker, Ella’s children placed her in a nursing home with a unit equipped for patients with Alzheimer disease.

  1. What is dementia? Why is Alzheimer disease based on a “diagnosis of exclusion”?
  2. What are the macroscopic and microscopic features of the brain that are typical in Alzheimer disease?
  3. One of Ella’s children brought her a new pair of slippers to wear in the nursing home. A minute after she received them, Ella could not remember the exchange and asked what they were doing on her bed. What part of the brain has largely been affected to produce this behavior, and what is the pathophysiology involved?

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