Memory loss is usually the first sign of
Alzheimer's disease. Many older people may worry about
Alzheimer's disease if they start to have memory problems. Having some
short-term memory loss in your 60s and 70s is common, and some people with mild
memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease. If you start having
memory problems, share your concerns with your family and your doctor.
Examples of normal forgetfulness include
Alzheimer's disease isn't an immediate descent into forgetfulness. Instead, it is a progressive decline in cognitive function that erodes memory and reduces the ability to perform tasks over a period of several years.
Experts have designated a series of Alzheimer's stages that can help patients and their families plan for future care. Each of these stages includes symptoms that are typical as the disease advances.
Alzheimer's stages typically follow this progression: mild Alzheimer's, moderate...
Examples of memory loss caused by Alzheimer's disease include forgetting:
An entire experience.
How to drive
a car or read a clock.
Recent events, such as forgetting you left
the stove on.
Ever having known a particular person.
Alzheimer's disease also causes changes in thinking,
behavior, and personality. Early in the disease, the person may still behave
appropriately in social situations, leading others to believe that the person
is not ill. Close family members and friends may first notice the symptoms of
Alzheimer's disease, although the person may also realize that something is
wrong. Learn the
warning signs of dementia-such as having difficulty
thinking or remembering, or having trouble balancing a checkbook-and talk to a
doctor if a friend or family member has any of the signs. Symptoms
vary as the disease progresses.
The Alzheimer's Association has
identified 10 warning signs for Alzheimer's disease. These signs are:2
Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting recently
learned information like names and phone numbers.
Challenges in planning or solving problems.
completing familiar tasks, such as cooking a meal.
Confusion with time and place, such as forgetting
where you live on your street.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as problems reading or judging distance.
New problems with words in speaking or writing, such as calling things by the wrong name or having trouble finding the right word.
Misplacing things and being unable to go back over your steps to find them again, like putting an iron in the freezer
or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
Poor or decreased judgment, such as
dressing improperly for the weather or giving away large sums of money to
Withdrawing from work or social activities, such as not wanting to keep up with a favorite sports team or favorite hobby.
Changes in mood and personality,
such as rapid mood swings-from calm to tears to anger-for no apparent
Symptoms that may be but are not always present
Firmly held false beliefs (delusions), such as that someone is stealing from the
Lack of interest in
surroundings or activities, or withdrawal from family and
Purposeless activity, such as opening and closing a purse,
packing and unpacking clothing, pacing, or repeating demands or
Verbal and physical aggression.
control impulses, which may lead to unusual or inappropriate actions. Men are
somewhat more likely than women to exhibit behavior problems such as wandering,
abusiveness, and social impropriety.