Skip to content

    Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

    Font Size

    Alzheimer's Disease - When To Call a Doctor

    Alzheimer's disease tends to develop slowly over time. If confusion and other changes in mental abilities come on suddenly, within hours or days, the problem may be delirium. Delirium needs treatment right away.

    Seek care right away if:

    Recommended Related to Alzheimer's

    Early-Onset Dementia: A Caregiver's Guide

    Dementia makes it difficult to think clearly, to remember things, and to communicate with others. Early-onset, or young-onset, dementia refers to changes that begin before age 65. It can start as early as age 30 but usually happens around age 50. Because it starts at an earlier age, there are unique challenges to consider when caring for someone with early-onset dementia, such as Alzheimer's. People with early-onset dementia are more likely to have: Children who depend on them A job...

    Read the Early-Onset Dementia: A Caregiver's Guide article > >

    • Symptoms such as a shortened attention span, memory problems, or seeing or hearing things that aren't really there (hallucinations) develop suddenly over hours to days.
    • A person who has Alzheimer's disease has a sudden, significant change in normal behavior or if symptoms suddenly become worse.

    Call your doctor to schedule an appointment if:

    • Symptoms such as a shortened attention span, memory problems, or false beliefs (delusions) develop gradually over a few weeks or months.
    • Memory loss and other symptoms begin to interfere with the person's work or social life or could cause injury or harm to the person.
    • You need help caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease.

    Watchful waiting

    If memory loss isn't rapidly becoming worse or interfering with work, social life, or the ability to function, it may be normal age-related memory loss. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about memory loss.

    Who to see

    The following health professionals can evaluate symptoms of memory loss or confusion:

    A family member or friend will need to go with the person who needs to be evaluated.

    To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Remember your finger
    When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
    senior man with serious expression
    Which kinds are treatable?
    senior man
    Common symptoms to look for.
    mri scan of human brain
    Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
    eating blueberries
    Colored mri of brain
    Human brain graphic
    mature woman
    Woman comforting ailing mother
    Senior woman with serious expression