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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:

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  • 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 29, 2012
    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.
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