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What Are The Signs Alzheimer’s Disease

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment

What are the common early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.

Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.

The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems.

For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.

As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:

  • confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
  • difficulty planning or making decisions
  • problems with speech and language
  • problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
  • personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • low mood or anxiety

Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Bad Judgment Or Changes In Decision Making

Moreno recalls an incident in which a woman with dementia mistook a cleaning spray can for cooking spray and sprayed it in the pot she was about to use as if it it was olive oil. This kind of diminished or poor judgment can manifest itself in a number of ways. For example, someone who was mindful of their finances might make a number of extravagant purchases.

Changes can also occur in the way a person presents himself, such as paying less attention to the toilet or even keeping himself clean. You have to be careful when behaviors become significantly different from what was the norm, says Moreno. If there are big changes in someones behavior, this is something to focus on when looking at the possible warning signs of Alzheimers disease.

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When To See A Doctor

Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.

They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:

  • a complete series of memory and mental tests
  • a neurological exam
  • brain imaging tests

If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.

Possible causes of dementia include:

Can You Come Back From Dementia

What you need to know about Alzheimers Disease ...

Dementia once it has been officially diagnosed does not go away, but the symptoms can come and go and the condition can manifest itself differently depending on the person. The symptoms and signs of Alzheimers or dementia progress at different rates. There are different stages, but it doesnt ever go away.

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What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States

  • Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
  • The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
  • The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3

In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1

In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4

Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6


Early Onset Alzheimers Disease

Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimers disease, this is not just a condition that affects older adults.

According to the Alzheimers Association, early onset Alzheimers disease affects around 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 years. Many people with this condition are in their 40s or 50s.

In many cases, doctors do not know why younger people develop this condition. Several rare genes can cause the condition. When there is a genetic cause, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers

Memory problems are often one of the first signs of Alzheimers. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may include problems with:

  • Word-finding, or having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age.
  • Vision and spatial issues, like awareness of the space around them.
  • Impaired reasoning or judgment, which can impact decisions.

Other symptoms may be changes in the persons behavior, including:

  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Wandering and getting lost.
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places.
  • Mood and personality changes.
  • Increased anxiety and/or aggression.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

The Other Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Watch this video play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.

In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.

Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .

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What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.

Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.

The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.

Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .

Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:

  • Losing things often
  • Forgetting to go to events or appointments
  • Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.

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Difficulty Finding The Right Words

Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.

Supportive Measures And Treatments

Understanding Alzheimers Disease

In addition to medication, treatment for Alzheimer’s disease involves a wide range of other measures and treatments to help people with dementia live as independently as possible.

For example, an occupational therapist can identify problems or unsafe areas in your everyday life and help you to develop strategies or use alternative tools to manage these. They may suggest:

  • ways of prompting and reminding yourself of important tasks such as using diaries or calendars
  • assistive technology devices or systems to help maintain the independence and safety of people living with dementia
  • adding grab bars and handrails to your home to help you move around safely
  • other professionals visiting you at home and assisting with daily tasks to maintain your independence in the community

Psychological treatments, such as cognitive stimulation, may be offered to help improve your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.

Medication, other psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , music and art therapy, reminiscence and relaxation therapies may also be offered. These may help with managing depression, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, delusions and challenging behaviour that can occur with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms At Bwh

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have made groundbreaking discoveries in Alzheimer’s research over the past 30 years. The BWH Alzheimer Center in the Department of Neurology Services provides a comprehensive program that involves laboratory research, clinical trials, and patient care to advance the prevention of Alzheimer’s and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

In this video, Reisa Sperling, MD, provides an overview on Alzheimer’s disease dementia and a new groundbreaking study, the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease Study. The A4 Study is the first study to examine early treatment of older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease dementia with the hope of preventing memory loss before it begins.

Early Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimers is a degenerative disease that destroys brain cells, called neurons. It was first described in 1906 by a German doctor named Alois Alzheimer.

While a cure for this form of dementia has not yet been found, being aware of certain early signs is important. Several treatments, developed to mitigate these symptoms, are more likely to work if the disease is diagnosed early.

If you are worried about your health, dont wait to make an appointment with your doctor.

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Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
  • Vagueness in everyday conversation
  • Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
  • Taking longer to do routine tasks
  • Forgetting well-known people or places
  • Inability to process questions and instructions
  • Deterioration of social skills
  • Emotional unpredictability

Symptoms vary and the disease progresses at a different pace according to the individual and the areas of the brain affected. A person’s abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, becoming worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill-health.

How Many Americans Have Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers Disease – Early Signs

Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 6 million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimers. Many more under age 65 also have the disease. Unless Alzheimer’s can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with it will increase significantly if current population trends continue. This is because increasing age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.

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How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Progress

The rate of progression of the disease varies from person to person.

However, the disease does lead eventually to complete dependence and finally death, usually from another illness such as pneumonia. A person may live from three to twenty years with Alzheimer’s disease, with the average being seven to ten years.

Difficulty Determining Time Or Place

Losing track of dates and misunderstanding the passage of time as it occurs are also two common symptoms. Planning for future events can become difficult since they arent immediately occurring.

As symptoms progress, people with AD can become increasingly forgetful about where they are, how they got there, or why theyre there.

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What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

The research into the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms is ongoing, but scientists believe the disease prevents certain brain cells from functioning normally. Researchers suspect that two abnormal structures in the brain plaques and tangles may be principally responsible for damaging and killing brain nerve cells. Plaques are deposits of a protein fragment that build up in the spaces between nerve cells, while tangles are twisted fibers of another protein that build up inside cells. Most people have some plaques and tangles as they get older, but those with Alzheimer’s tend to have far more. It’s unclear what role the structures play in the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but some experts believe they are involved in blocking communication between nerve cells and interrupting processes that cells require to survive.

Warning Signs Of Dementia Infographic


Our infographic showing 10 warning signs of dementia.

  • Date:02nd June 2017

Every person is unique and dementia effects every individual differently, with no two people experiencing symptoms in exactly the same way. Symptoms also vary by type of dementia. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. 10 of the most common warning signs are shown below and depicted in the infographic:

  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Problems keeping track of things
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood and behaviour
  • Trouble with images and spatial relationships
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • If these signs are new, they may be a sign of dementia. Dementia is not a part of normal aging. If you think that these problems are affecting your daily life, or the life of someone you know, you should talk to your doctor or seek out more information from your national dementia of Alzheimers association.

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    Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented

    As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.

    But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:

    These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.

    Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

    Withdrawal From Work And Social Activities

    It is common for many people with early-stage Alzheimers disease to become difficult at work. We hear stories about a person living with the disease who has been made redundant because they are no longer able to produce at the level that they were before, explains Moreno. For those who are retired, you may notice a reluctance to participate in social activities, even the ones the person looked forward to and enjoyed.

    It could be because someone is having a harder time following conversations or engaging as before, says Moreno. Rather than struggle, they withdraw from these activities and these friends because its not as comfortable as it used to be.

    Having one or more of these warning signs doesnt mean you or someone you care about has Alzheimers disease, but its best to get it checked out.

    If youre having trouble raising this potentially sensitive issue with a loved one, the Alzheimers Association has some tips and conversation starters to help you. The Association advises that it is best to talk about concerns before a crisis occurs. This provides the best opportunity to get an accurate diagnosis, start an appropriate treatment plan, and discuss plans for managing the future so you can live your best life.

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    Medications For Cognitive Symptoms

    No disease-modifying drugs are available for Alzheimers disease, but some options may reduce the symptoms and help improve quality of life.

    Drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors can ease cognitive symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, altered thought processes, and judgment problems. They improve neural communication across the brain and slow the progress of these symptoms.

    Three common drugs with Food and Drug Administration approval to treat these symptoms of Alzheimers disease are:

    • donepezil , to treat all stages
    • galantamine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages
    • rivastigmine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages

    Another drug, called memantine , has approval to treat moderate-to-severe Alzheimers disease. A combination of memantine and donepezil is also available.

    What To Do If You Suspect Alzheimers Disease

    Alzheimers Disease – Early Signs (video)

    Getting checked by your healthcare provider can help determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to Alzheimers disease, or a more treatable conditions such as a vitamin deficiency or a side effect from medication. Early and accurate diagnosis also provides opportunities for you and your family to consider financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.

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