The History Behind Alzheimer’s Disease

There is so much talk about Alzheimer’s disease, but what do we know about the person who discovered it?

Dr. Alois Alzheimer was a young doctor who worked at the Frankfurt Clinic where the first person known to have Alzheimer’s disease was a patient. Auguste Deter was in her early fifties in 1890 when she was admitted to the Frankfurt Mental Clinic with problems sleeping and identifying herself. One of the file notes recorded her as saying, ” I have lost myself.”
Alzheimer was not Auguste’s primary caregiver throughout her stay at the Clinic, but he continued to follow her case throughout the years. When Auguste died in 1906, Alois Alzheimer had slices of tissue taken from her brain and brought them to his new facility in Munich. Performing a series of tests on the tissue he noticed little tangles of nerves, now called neurofibrillary tangles. He also noticed little plaques.

The next year he presented his findings at a meeting of the South-West German Psychiatrists, and spent the next few decades examining the brains of other patients who showed similar mental decline as Auguste.

Emil Kraepelin was the first to promote Alzheimer’s work. Alois Alzheimer discovered the disease, but Kraepelin presented it to the world. After Alois Alzheimer died in 1915, Emil put the information known about the disease in textbooks. He was the person who got doctors all over the world looking for something more than senility.

Today research continues, but still not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but with the help of doctors and scientists such as Alois Alzheimer we are so much closer.