Dr. Alois Alzheimer was born in June 14, 1864 in Marktbreit, Germany, and studied medicine at the universities of Würburg and Berlin. Upon his graduation in 1887, Dr. Alzheimer worked as a medical officer at the state asylum in Frankfurt am Main. There he became a leading neurologist, publishing works on epilepsy, brain tumors, syphilis and hardening of the arteries. He was known for correlating the clinical course of his patients with the changes to the brain observed when autopsies were performed after their deaths.
In 1901, Dr. Alzheimer met Auguste D., a 51-year-old woman who became his patient at the asylum for the next four years until her death. Her condition steadily deteriorated displaying memory loss, difficulty with speech, confusion, suspicion, agitation, wandering, and screaming when bedridden. She became incontinent and unaware of her surroundings.
When Alzheimer performed the autopsy in 1905, he found her brain had shriveled and neurons had disappeared. He also discovered the characteristic “neurofibrillary tangles” and “senile plaques” that we now know as the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Alzheimer presented his findings to a group of psychiatrists in 1906, the first public description of this new disease. When he made this discovery, Dr. Alzheimer was unaware that the disease would be named after him and would also become the most common form of dementia in older people.