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History of Alzheimer's

Dr. Alois Alzheimer

From the beginning

Alois Alzheimer was born on June 14, 1864, in Marktbreit, Germany. He studied medicine at the universities of Berlin, Tubingen and Würzberg. Alzheimer later became the senior physician at the Hospital for the Mentally Ill and Epileptics in Frankfurt and was known as a pioneer in linking symptoms to microscopic brain changes.

On November 25, 1901, 46-year-old Auguste D. was admitted to the Frankfurt hospital, where she was examined by Alzheimer. She exhibited many symptoms including reduced comprehension and memory, aphasia, disorientation, unpredictable behavior, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, and pronounced psychosocial impairment. Alzheimer had never seen anything like it.

In 1903, Alzheimer left Frankfurt to work at the Royal Psychiatric Clinic in Munich under Director Emil Kraepelin. There, Alzheimer continued to follow Auguste D.'s case until her death on April 8, 1906 - just five years since her first visit.

Alzheimer continued studying the neuropathological features of her illness by conducting an autopsy of Auguste D.'s brain, where he saw dramatic shrinkage and abnormal deposits in and around nerve cells. On November 4, 1906, Alzheimer gave a remarkable lecture about his findings, in which he described for the first time, a new form of dementia that deviated from any other known disease pattern. His findings were later published in 1907.

Three years later, the newly-identified condition became known as Alzheimer's disease, at the suggestion of Kraepelin, based on Alzheimer's 1907 report of Auguste D.'s case.

While the term Alzheimer's disease became well known throughout medical literature, much about the illness would remain a mystery for years to come.



During the next seven decades, people with Alzheimer's and their families had few places to turn to for assistance. Then, in 1979, Jerome H. Stone and representatives from several family support groups met with the National Institute on Aging to explore the possibility of starting a nonprofit organization to help all those affected by the disease. Their goal was to establish a national, independent organization to complement federal efforts surrounding Alzheimer's disease. That meeting resulted in the formation of the Alzheimer's Association with Mr. Stone as founding president on April 10, 1980.

Quickly to follow, the East Central Iowa Chapter was established in 1986. Today, it is one of 80 other Alzheimer's Association chapters in the United States. With more than 63,000 people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias in Iowa, we will continue to provide support, offer hope, and be there until Alzheimer's is just a memory.

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Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.