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Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

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In Alzheimer’s disease, nerve cells in the brain die gradually. This makes it increasingly difficult for your brain’s signals to be sent properly.

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms may be hard to recognize at first. You may assume that symptoms such as mild forgetfulness or an occasional loss of focus are normal signs of aging. But as the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms become more than “normal” changes. They become frightening, incapacitating, and dangerous. In the latter stages of disease, people with Alzheimer’s often require round-the-clock care.

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Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms in the Early Stage

Below are several early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Short-term memory loss is the most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Do you have trouble remembering recent conversations or events?
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Are you stumped by everyday activities, like brushing your teeth, washing your hair, or making a telephone call?
  • Disorientation. Do you get lost in your own neighborhood? Do you find yourself putting household items in places they don’t belong, like placing a book in the refrigerator?
  • Increasing problems with planning and managing. Have activities like balancing your checkbook, paying bills, or preparing a shopping list become more difficult?
  • Trouble with language. Are you unable to recall words for everyday things? For example, does “car” become “that thing I drive” or chair “that thing I sit on”?
  • Rapid, unpredictable mood swings. Do you suddenly shift from happy to sad or from calm to angry with no apparent reason?
  • Lack of motivation. Have activities you have always loved lost their appeal? Do you see less of your friends and family? Are you spending more time staring at the television?
  • Changes in sleep. Do you sleep more than usual? Do you sleep during the day rather than at night?

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms in the Middle Stage

Once a person enters the middle stage, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms begin to demand constant attention and care. Symptoms linked to the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, going to bathroom, or preparing meals
  • Hallucinations
  • Strong feelings of paranoia and anger
  • Wandering


Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms in the Later Stages

In the later stages, a person with Alzheimer’s disease is unable to care for himself or herself at all. Here are late-stage Alzheimer's disease symptoms:

  • Inability to communicate with or recognize other people
  • Inability to walk
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inability to smile


If you notice any of these Alzheimer's disease symptoms, see a doctor right away for a complete checkup. These signs can be linked to many other health problems, many of which can be treated.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 28, 2014
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