Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Learn the early signs of this progressive brain disease.
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia—characterized by the loss of brain function that affects memory, behavior, decision-making, personality, and language. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people younger than 60, while late-onset Alzheimer’s affects those older than 60. Diagnosing Alzheimer's is a challenge, so doctors use outward signs to make a diagnosis.
Click through the slideshow to learn the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Memory loss is one of the most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease. It is most evident when a person forgets recently learned information, such as a being unable to recall a person’s name moments after meeting them. This problem can manifest as repeatedly asking the same question or forgetting important dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
While diminished memory function is often associated with older age, Alzheimer’s symptoms become progressively worse.
Another common sign of Alzheimer’s is a person becoming more forgetful of where they place items. This isn’t simply forgetting where you left the car keys, because that can happen to anyone. This could mean putting things in odd places—car keys in the blender—or being unable to retrace steps to find what they’ve lost. It’s most apparent in someone who is normally neat and organized.
Difficulty Concentrating & Planning
Alzheimer’s can also affect a person’s ability to follow a plan, whether it be cooking a recipe, assembling a simple item, or anything else involving directions. This may cause them to be slower or abandon the project entirely. Also, things involving numbers, such as handling personal finances, may become increasingly difficult and confusing. Minor errors can be expected with old age, but Alzheimer’s can significantly affect a person's ability to do the things they've been doing effectively their whole lives.
As Alzheimer’s affects a person’s memory, they can become disorientated in familiar places. While anyone can get lost in a new town or unfamiliar neighborhood, a person with Alzheimer’s can become lost in situations such as coming home from the grocery store, even if they’ve taken the same route for 50 years. This symptom can also manifest as forgetting the rules to familiar game or forgetting how to accomplish daily tasks.
Difficulty with Time or Place
While rare in the early stages, people with Alzheimer’s can forget where they are or how they got there. This can even include home.
Trouble with time is more common. This can include forgetting important dates or thinking something happened recently when it actually happened months or even years before. A person with Alzheimer's might forget what season it is and not dress appropriately for the weather.
Anyone can struggle to find the right words for what they’re thinking. However, people with Alzheimer’s might go beyond simply having trouble finding words and may start using odd expressions. The Alzheimer’s Association offers the example of calling a watch a “hand clock.” Also, a person with Alzheimer’s can have difficulty in conversations, such as stopping mid-sentence and being unaware of where to begin again.
Changes in Personality & Mood
Personality and mood changes are often the first signs of Alzheimer's that people notice in loved ones. These symptoms can include unfounded distrust in family members, paranoia, anxiety, or depression. It is most evident when generally good-natured people become angry, spiteful, or depressed without any other reason. They can also become easily upset in situations outside their typical routine or environment.
As Alzheimer’s progresses without treatment, symptoms can become more severe. They may include:
- inability to recognize loved ones
- forgetting details of their own life
- withdrawal from social contact
- poor judgment to the point of self-endangerment
- delusions or hallucinations
- speaking in confusing sentences
Get More Information
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are several treatments that can slow its progression. There are also treatments to help manage symptoms, such as loss of sleep and agitation.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Learning Center to find out more.