Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Alzheimer's Definition:

A degenerative disease of the brain of unknown origin resulting in destruction of brain tissue and deterioration in brain function.

Related Terms: Dementia

In Dinnerstein, Justice Armstrong of the Appeals Court of Massachusetts wrote:

"Alzheimer's disease ... is a degenerative disease of the brain of unknown origin, described as presenile dementia, and results in destruction of brain tissue and, consequently, deterioration in brain function. The condition is progressive and unremitting, leading in stages to disorientation, loss of memory, personality disorganization, loss of intellectual function, and ultimate loss of all motor function. The disease typically leads to a vegetative or comatose condition and then to death. The course of the disease may be gradual or precipitous, averaging five to seven years. At this time medical science knows of no cure for the disease and no treatment which can slow or arrest its course. No medical breakthrough is anticipated."

In Davis v Jung, Madam Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court adopted these words from medical experts (neurologists), at ¶10 and ¶12:

"Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease....

"[W]hat is known regarding the process of Alzheimer's disease is that it is a chemical change which occurs in a nerve cell resulting in the deposit of an abnormal protein product.  The accumulation in the cell of this protein disrupts the cell and it dies."

In Lundbeck Canada, Madam Justice McTavish wrote:

"Alzheimer's disease is a particularly cruel illness. It slowly robs sufferers of their memories, their personalities, their autonomy and, ultimately, their lives....There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

"Alzheimer's disease was first described by Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, in 1906. The disease is progressive and terminal, with patients going through mild, moderate and severe phases of the illness before finally succumbing to it."

In Stevens v Morrisoe, Justice Picard of the Alberta Court of Appeal quoted a medical expert as follows:

"[P]atients suffering from Alzheimer's proceed through stages ranging from normal to severe with an average life expectancy of ten years. All of the medical witnesses agreed that early stages of the disease generally last seven years."

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