Memory loss is usually the first sign of
Alzheimer's disease. Having some
short-term memory loss in your 60s and 70s is common, but this doesn't mean it's Alzheimer's disease.
Compare these examples of normal memory problems and the types of memory problems that may be caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Symptoms of normal forgetfulness versus Alzheimer's disease
In normal forgetfulness, the person may forget:
In Alzheimer's disease, the person may forget:
|Parts of an experience. ||An entire experience.|
car is parked. ||What the car looks like.|
name, but remember it later. ||Ever having known a particular person.|
Alzheimer's disease also causes changes in thinking,
behavior, and personality. Close family members and friends may first notice these symptoms, although the person may also realize that something is
Following are some of the symptoms of the different stages of Alzheimer's disease. They vary as the disease progresses. Talk to your doctor if a friend or family member has any of the signs.
Mild Alzheimer's disease
Usually, a person with mild Alzheimer's disease:
- Avoids new and unfamiliar situations.
- Has delayed reactions and slowed learning
- Begins speaking more slowly than in the past.
- Starts using poor judgment and making inappropriate
- May have mood swings and become depressed, irritable, or
These symptoms often are more obvious when the person is
in a new and unfamiliar place or situation.
Some people have memory loss called mild cognitive impairment. People with this condition are at risk for Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. But not all people with mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia.
Moderate Alzheimer's disease
With moderate Alzheimer's disease, a person
- Has problems recognizing close friends and
- Becomes more restless, especially in late afternoon
and at night. This is called sundowning.
- Has problems reading,
writing, and dealing with numbers.
- Has trouble dressing.
- Cannot work simple appliances such as a microwave.
Severe Alzheimer's disease
With severe Alzheimer's disease, a person
- Can no longer remember how to bathe, eat,
dress, or go to the bathroom independently.
- No longer knows when to chew and swallow.
trouble with balance or walking and may fall frequently.
- Becomes more confused in the evening (sundowning) and has trouble sleeping.
- Cannot communicate using words.
- Loses bowel or bladder control (incontinence).
Other conditions with similar symptoms
Early in the disease, Alzheimer's usually doesn't affect a
person's fine motor skills (such as the ability to button or unbutton clothes
or use utensils) or sense of touch. So a person who develops motor symptoms (such
as weakness or shaking hands) or sensory symptoms (such as numbness) probably
has a condition other than Alzheimer's disease. Conditions such as
Parkinson's disease, for instance, may cause motor
symptoms along with dementia.
Other conditions with symptoms
similar to those of Alzheimer's disease may include: