Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms

Alzheimer's disease begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. People in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. Such difficulties may be a bother, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm. However, as the disease goes on, forgetfulness begins to interfere with daily activities. People may forget the way home or find it hard to cope with daily life. Such symptoms are more easily noticed and become serious enough to cause people with Alzheimer's disease or their family members to seek medical help.

People in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease may forget how to do basic tasks, like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They can no longer think clearly. They begin to have problems speaking, understanding, reading, or writing. Later on, people with Alzheimer's disease may become anxious, agitated or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, patients need total care.

Signs of mild Alzheimer's can include:

  • memory loss
  • confusion about the location of familiar places
  • taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks
  • trouble handling money and paying bills
  • poor judgment leading to bad decisions
  • loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
  • mood and personality changes
  • increased anxiety
  • increasing memory loss and confusion
  • shortened attention span
  • problems recognizing friends and family members
  • difficulty with language, including problems with reading and writing
  • difficulty working with numbers
  • difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically
  • inability to learn new things or cope with new or unexpected situations
  • restlessness, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness
  • wandering -- especially in the late afternoon or at night
  • repetitive statements or movement, occasional muscle twitches
  • hallucinations and delusions, suspiciousness or paranoia, irritability
  • loss of impulse control
  • perceptual-motor problems

Symptoms of severe Alzheimer's include

  • Inability to recognize family or loved ones
  • Inability to communicate
  • loss of sense of self
  • weight loss
  • seizures, skin infections, difficulty swallowing
  • groaning, moaning, or grunting
  • increased sleeping
  • lack of bladder and bowel control
  • total dependence on the caregiver

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2009

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