Alzheimer's Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms

The first symptoms of Alzheimer's vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs related to Alzheimer's disease.

Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment.

 

PROGRESSION

Alzheimer's disease progresses in 4 stages:

1. Preclinical

2. Mild (sometimes called early-stage)

3. Moderate

4. Severe (sometimes called late-stage)

Preclinical Alzheimer's Signs

People seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain. Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimer's disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms.

 
For most people with Alzheimer's (those who have the late-onset variety) symptoms first appear in the mid-60s. 


Signs of early-onset Alzheimer's begin between 30s and mid-60s.


As the disease progresses, people experiences greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.

Mild Alzheimer's Signs

In mild Alzheimer's disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around them. Problems could include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Poor judgment (leading to bad decisions)
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
  • Repeating questions
  • Trouble handling money/paying bills
  • Wandering/getting lost
  • Losing things/misplacing in odd places
  • Mood/personality changes
  • Increased anxiety and/or aggression

Moderate Alzheimer's Signs

More intensive supervision and care become necessary, which can be difficult for many spouses and families. Symptoms could include:

  • Increased memory loss/confusion
  • Inability to learn new things
  • Difficulty with language and problems reading, writing, and working with numbers
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically
  • Shortened attention span
  • Problems coping with new situations
  • Difficulty carrying out multistep tasks (getting dressed)
  • Problems recognizing family and friends
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
  • Impulsive behaviors (undressing at inappropriate times or places and using vulgar language
  • Inappropriate outbursts of anger
  • Restlessness, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, wandering (especially the later the day gets)
  • Repetitive statements, movements, and occasional muscle twitches

Severe Alzheimer's Signs

People with severe Alzheimer's cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for care. Nearing the end, the person may be in bed most or all the time as the body shuts down. Their symptoms include:

  • Inability to communicate
  • Weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Skin infections (skin tears, trouble healing)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Groaning, moaning, or grunting
  • Increased sleeping
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control

Most often cause of death for people with Alzheimer's disease is aspiration pneumonia. This pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.