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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Symptoms

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The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often come on gradually. They then typically progress over several years to the point of causing major impairment.

Alzheimer's can be divided into mild, moderate, or severe stages. Each stage has a separate set of symptoms. But symptoms can vary from person to person. And the length of each stage can also vary.

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention

 

Mild Alzheimer's

The first stage is considered early or mild Alzheimer's. On average, it lasts from two to four years. The earlier the symptoms are recognized, the earlier a doctor can tell if someone has Alzheimer's.

The symptoms of this stage include:

  • Change in the level of energy and spontaneity
  • Withdrawal from work and social activities and spending more time just sitting, watching TV, or sleeping
  • Loss of recent memories; this includes forgetting conversations and recent events
  • Increasing problems with language, both with expression and understanding
  • Mild problems with coordination; this might be seen in having trouble with writing or in using familiar objects.
  • Trouble completing familiar tasks, such as following a recipe or balancing a check book
  • Mood swings that involve episodes of depression or apathy
  • Possible trouble with driving

Having some or all of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has Alzheimer's. Other conditions can cause symptoms that mimic Alzheimer's disease. These conditions include:

  • Metabolic problems such as hypothyroidism
  • Drug abuse
  • Medication interactions
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stress
  • Depression
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